Support for Natural Resources & Outdoor Recreation Trust Fund Soars

Statewide Poll: Seven-in-ten Iowans favor 3/8 cent sales tax as solution

Des Moines, Iowa — As Iowa’s elected leaders make water quality measures and tax reform top priorities in 2018, a coalition of conservation, outdoor recreation, and agriculture leaders today released results of a statewide scientific poll showing a record number of likely Iowa voters – 69 percent – support enactment of a 3/8 cent state sales tax increase to fund those priorities.

“Iowans want clean water, productive agricultural soil, and increased outdoor recreation opportunities. They overwhelmingly favor funding the Natural Resources and Outdoor Recreation Trust Fund as the solution,” said Joe McGovern, President of Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation, noting the Trust Fund, established through a constitutional amendment in 2010 when 63 percent of Iowa voters supported it, remains unfunded.

McGovern said the statewide survey of likely 2018 Iowa voters was conducted by leading national polling firm, Public Opinion Strategies, and was commissioned by Iowa’s Water and Land Legacy (IWILL) Coalition. The Coalition executive council is comprised of leaders from the American Heart Association, Ducks Unlimited, Iowa’s County Conservation Boards, Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation, Iowa Soybean Association, Pheasants Forever and The Nature Conservancy in Iowa.

The IWILL Coalition survey found statewide support for funding the Trust through the 3/8 cent sales tax grew from 63 percent in 2013 to 66 percent in 2014 to 69 percent in the November 2017 survey. Support has grown across all groups of Iowa voters, as the survey indicates a majority of Iowa voters who identify as conservative Republicans support a sales tax increase. Other key demographics registering overwhelming support for the 3/8 cent increase include 83 percent of suburban Iowa voters, 73 percent of women voters, 71 percent of voters aged 65 or older, and 75 percent of voters aged 18-34.

“Iowa voters got it right in 2010 when they created the Trust Fund and they more than ever get it today. Funding the Trust is the best way to clean up our water and increase public hunting, fishing and outdoor recreation areas,” said Tammi Kircher, State Chair for Iowa Ducks Unlimited. “This is all about improving our quality of life and leaving a lasting legacy for our children and grandchildren.”

Strong statewide support for Funding the Trust through a 3/8 cent sales tax increase is driven by Iowans’ belief that the quality of Iowa’s waterways is a serious problem that needs immediate attention, as are the need for more outdoor recreation opportunities.

“Meeting Iowa’s workforce needs means meeting the demands of future employees. Those demands include increased outdoor recreation opportunities for themselves and their families,” said Mark Doll, chief executive officer of Doll Distributing and Coalition co-chairman. “Parks, trails and outdoor areas funded by the Trust are key tools in Iowa’s economic development arsenal to help businesses retain and recruit a high-quality workforce.”

A key component to support for the Trust is making sure Iowans know that nearly two-thirds of the revenue generated will be used to improve water quality in Iowa. In the survey, 68 percent of Iowans said this fact is extremely or very important. Estimated revenue of $187.5 million each year would flow to the Trust Fund. A majority of those dollars is designated for water quality improvement projects, including lake restoration, wildlife habitat projects, water protection and enhancing flood protection efforts.

“Productive soils yield a prosperous Iowa,” said Iowa Soybean Association CEO Kirk Leeds. “Improved water quality through a watershed approach is critical to that productivity and IWILL is critical to triggering sustainable funding. I’m encouraged the poll recognizes a strong majority of rural Iowans support IWILL as the solution.”

About the Poll

Public Opinion Strategies conducted live telephone interviews with 500 Iowa residents who are likely to vote in the 2018 general election. The interviews were conducted November 12-16, 2017. The survey had a statistically valid sample with margin of sampling error of plus or minus 4.38 percent at the 95 percent confidence interval for the total sample. Live interviews were conducted on both cell phones and land lines.

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