Why INHF supports the Invest in Iowa Act

By Joe McGovern on February 18, 2020 in Blog

If the Invest in Iowa Act is passed, an estimated $171 million in sustainable, reliable, constitutionally protected funding will go into the Natural Resources and Outdoor Recreation Trust Fund every year. That is $171 million more than currently goes into the Trust Fund, and that is why Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation is supporting Gov. Kim Reynolds’ Invest in Iowa Act.

INHF, along with countless other people and organizations, have fought hard to fund the Trust Fund since it was created by a statewide vote in 2010. Today, the Trust Fund remains empty, awaiting a needed sales tax increase to fill it. Passage of this bill would mean that we are more fully addressing the challenges and embracing the opportunities presented by our land, water and wildlife.

The graph below shows what we can expect for conservation and recreation funding with a status quo budget and what we can expect with the Trust Fund. Even with the proposed changes to the distribution formula for the Trust Fund, the bill represents an increase in funding over current levels in each of those categories that currently come from yearly appropriations, which can fluctuate drastically.

If the Trust Fund had been funded 10 years ago, we would be more than $1 billion dollars ahead of where we are now in funding cleaner water, healthier soil and more places for Iowans to enjoy the outdoors. 

We have an opportunity to finally fund the Trust. We can’t afford to wait another 10 years.

Funding comparison

*Note on Watershed Protection and Soil & Water Conservation in Governor's Proposal: Includes funding for water quality initiatives enacted in SF512 (2018)

INHF supports the Governor’s proposal to Fund the Natural Resources and Outdoor Recreation Trust Fund, which accomplishes the following priorities to further conservation in Iowa:

  • Funds a constitutionally protected funding source for conservation in Iowa: Once the Trust is funded, it will provide dedicated, sustainable funding for natural resource and outdoor recreation and its revenue will continue to grow with inflation. Even though the Trust Fund allocation formula may be adjusted to meet the needs of our time, it is constitutionally protected for the purposes of protecting and enhancing water quality and natural areas in this state, including parks, trails, and fish and wildlife habitat, and conserving agricultural soils in this state. The potential of this permanent, dedicated funding cannot be overstated.
  • Increases conservation and outdoor recreation funding: Compared to FY20 appropriations and projections for FY21, the Governor’s proposal would significantly increase funding for conservation, which would have an immediate impact on Iowa’s natural resources. If the Trust had been funded at the time it was created, Iowa would have invested over $1 billion in conservation and outdoor recreation—our state cannot afford to wait any longer to Fund the Trust.
  • Categorically increases program funding: Despite some of the proposed changes to the distribution formula, each program that is part of the Natural Resources & Outdoor Recreation Trust Fund will receive more funding through this legislation than what it is currently appropriated.
  • Extends the Resource Enhancement and Protection program (REAP): REAP has been Iowa’s most successful conservation program and without action from the legislature, it is set to end in June 2021.

Governor Reynolds is holding a series of town halls across Iowa to promote the Invest in Iowa Act. The town halls this Friday include: 

Friday, February 27, 2020

Early Bird Cafe
333 1st St SE
Cedar Rapids, IA
7:00 a.m.

Monticello Golf Club
441 E 3rd St
Monticello, IA
9:00 a.m.

Grand River Center
500 Bell Street
Dubuque, IA
10:30 a.m.

Clinton Public Library
306 8th Ave S
Clinton, IA
2:30 p.m.