Public support to raise sales tax remains high

Nine years ago, voters approved a statewide ballot referendum to amend the Iowa Constitution to create the Natural Resource and Outdoor Recreation Trust Fund. Support remains strong for paying for the trust fund with a sales tax increase. A recent Des Moines Register poll indicated 65 percent of Iowans support a full cent sales tax increase to pay for a combination of water quality projects and mental health services.

In 2010, voters approved the creation of the fund with 60 percent support. The ballot measure would allocate a three-eighths cent sales tax increase for the trust fund, but Iowa legislators have yet to enact it. A 2017 poll had 69 percent support in favor of raising the sales tax. Prior polling also showed 63 percent support in 2013 and 66 percent in 2014.

Legislative leaders have voiced that property tax reform is a priority for this session. Speculation remains on whether a sales tax increase could be included as part of a reform package. As key deadlines come and pass for bills to advance from committee, these budget discussions will move to the forefront for the remainder of the session.

Much of the debate for legislators on whether to increase the sales tax for the trust fund has centered on administrative rules. Yet, such consistently high poll numbers indicate voter support for the unfunded initiative has not wavered over the years.