A Senate subcommittee met to consider an IWILL funding proposal. (Screenshot from Iowa Senate livestream)
A proposal to fund water conservation projects is back in the Iowa Senate, resurrected after dying in tax bill negotiations.
Senate Study Bill 3157 would change Iowa’s local-option sales tax to a statewide sales tax. That switch would channel a fraction of a cent from each purchase to fund the Natural Resources and Outdoor Recreation Trust Fund – a fund that has remained empty for over a decade.
At a Wednesday morning subcommittee, lobbyists celebrated the inclusion of the fund, commonly referred to as “IWILL.” Tammi Kircher, representing hunting and conservation group Ducks Unlimited, said outdoor recreation projects would help keep residents in Iowa and attract new workers to the state.
“Let’s bring the people to Iowa to hunt and fish and camp and enjoy outdoor opportunities as they come here for new jobs,” Kircher said.
Senate Republicans proposed the IWILL funding plan in their initial tax bill, but the idea faltered in negotiations with the House and Gov. Kim Reynolds. The final tax bill did not include the statewide sales tax.
Sen. Dan Dawson, a Republican leader on tax policy, said the 44-page bill also “microtargets” some issues in the larger tax bill.
“It’s not a pride of authorship, but this is probably the most likely way to accomplish IWILL and get some great tax policy done,” Dawson said.
Although the bill brings IWILL back to the table, its political future is uncertain. Gov. Kim Reynolds was skeptical about the IWILL funding proposal in a February interview on Iowa Press.
“With inflation at a 40-year high, we have to be really careful about raising taxes right now,” Reynolds said.
Dawson said he was optimistic the plan would move ahead soon, be it this session or next year.
“It seems like we’re starting to hit that point where we’re in the end game to get something done on this,” he said.
The subcommittee voted to advance the bill for consideration by the full Ways and Means committee.
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