Iowa's Water & Land Legacy - Fully Fund the Natural Resources & Outdoor Recreation Trust Fund

Iowa's Water & Land Legacy Coalition is asking the Iowa Legislature and Governor Branstad to support a 3/8ths of one percent increase in the state sales tax to fund the constitutionally protected Natural Resources & Outdoor Recreation Trust Fund. This increase would create a sustainable source of funding for water quality programs, agricultural soil conservation, protection of natural resources, watershed improvements and outdoor recreation. It would also help improve habitat and provide access to areas for hunting, fishing and other activities that involve wildlife. We are asking supporters to sign-on to the below letter that will be delivered to Governor Branstad and the Iowa General Assembly. It will read as follows and be addressed to elected officials: To Whom It May Concern: In 2010, Iowa voters approved Iowa's Water & Land Legacy Constitutional Amendment that created the Natural Resources & Outdoor Recreation Trust Fund. They approved creation of the Trust Fund with 63% of the vote and passage in 79 of Iowa's 99 counties. As the economy continues to recover and the demand for enhanced water quality, flood prevention and outdoor recreation opportunities increases; the need for funding continues to grow. We believe that now is the time for the State of Iowa to take the historic step of fully funding the Natural Resources & Outdoor Recreation Trust Fund through increasing the state sales tax by 3/8ths of one percent. As a recent non-partisan study conducted by Prof. Dan Otto of Iowa State University's Center on Agriculture and Rural Development shows (http://bit.ly/TNLQPB), an increase in the state sales tax of 3/8ths of one percent would generate approximately $123.4 million in revenue for the Natural Resources & Outdoor Recreation Trust Fund. According to Professor Otto, this would provide further support for natural resources and outdoor recreation programs that, quote, "already result in more than $3.1 billion of spending which in turn helps support almost 31,000 jobs and $1.16 billion of income in the state." According to the study, "Studies have shown that recreational amenities and quality of life opportunities are important to attracting businesses and entrepreneurs. Expanding and improving outdoor recreation opportunities is a no-lose proposition for Iowa as increased access to recreation opportunities enhances quality of life and health of Iowans as well as furthers Iowa’s economic development goals." In addition to these economic benefits, funding the Natural Resources Trust Fund would provide critical support for voluntary soil conservation efforts that can help the State of Iowa meet demands for enhanced water quality and reduction of soil erosion without resorting to burdensome regulations. Recent reports have highlighted the concerns of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and other NGOs and interest groups that are calling for regulation to reduce the nutrient load on Iowa's rivers, lakes and streams. Investing in the Trust Fund will provide a critical influx of revenue to help fund voluntary approaches. There are additional economic benefits as well. According to Prof. Otto, "Improving water quality in Iowa’s rivers and lakes is a high-priority state goal. A major strategy for advancing this goal is to reduce non-point pollution with soil erosion control measures. These investments lead to improved water quality and fishing habitat, but also generate different types of economic development benefits. Improving the water can lead to more participation in recreation activities, along with higher quality and increased value of outdoor recreation activities." We are asking Governor Branstad and the Iowa General Assembly to support increase in the state sales tax to fund these critical needs during the 2013 session. As many have said before us, "If not now, then when? And if not us, then who?" Thank you for your time and deliberate consideration. Sincerely,
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