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DAVENPORT -- A coalition pushing for an increase in the state sales tax to pay for water quality initiatives says a new poll shows nearly 7 in 10 Iowans back the idea.

Iowa’s Water and Land Legacy, a coalition that includes conservation, outdoors and business groups, said support for the sales tax increase has grown.

“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 the Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation.

The trust fund was created in 2010 when 63 percent of voters approved it in a statewide referendum.

For years, water quality advocates have pushed for a 3/8th cent sales tax increase to provide a revenue source for the fund, but the legislature hasn’t acted. This poll comes as lawmakers have just begun their 2018 session and water quality if a primary topic of discussion.

The new poll, conducted by Public Opinion Strategies between Nov. 12-16, sampled the opinions of 500 Iowans likely to vote in the 2018 election. The poll reported 69 percent support increasing the sales tax by 3/8ths of a cent to fund the trust in order to “protect water, land and wildlife, and ensuring strict accountability for all funds.”

That level of support, the group said, is higher than in 2014, when 66 percent supported it.

The group said its poll showed majority support across political party lines. The poll reported 88 percent of Democrats backed the increase and 55 percent of Republicans. Sixty-seven percent of independents did so, according to the poll.

The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.38 percent overall and higher for subgroups.

Last year, the House and Senate approved separate water quality measures, but did not include a sales tax increase. Instead, they would have diverted a smaller amount of existing tax revenues for water quality initiatives. The chambers could not come to an agreement on an individual proposal.


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