DES MOINES, Iowa--The backdrop Monday morning was as good as it gets in Iowa: temperatures in the 70s, a fall-like breeze on a sunny day, just feet from the confluence of the Des Moines and Raccoon Rivers. It also happened to be just a few blocks where Iowa lawmakers have refused to follow the majority of voters' wishes for the past six years.
"We're going to always have people digging in," Steve Falck said, "That's just part of the politics we face."
Falck is an outdoors lover, to say the least. He commutes to work every day on a juiced up, part battery-powered, part pedal-powered bicycle every day.
He is also the senior policy analyst for the Iowa Environmental and Law Policy Center. He joined nearly two dozen groups pushing legislators to sign off on the The Natural Resources and Outdoor Recreation Trust Fund, the 3/8ths of a cent statewide sales tax voters overwhelmingly passed 63-37 percent in 2010.
The tax increase would raise an estimated $180 million a year. At least 60 percent would go to water quality improvement issues, supporters say, with the remainder going to outdoor enhancements that could include trails.
Governor Terry Branstad was in Seattle on a previously announced economic development trip. He previously backed a dime statewide sales tax increase to improve roads and bridges.
His office released a statement on his continued opposition to implementing The Natural Resources and Outdoor Recreation Trust Fund's sales tax increase:
"As he has said from the beginning, Gov. Branstad is pleased to see Iowans engaged in the conversation on how to secure a long-term, reliable source of funding to address water quality. However, Gov. Branstad continues to believe that we can prioritize our state budget and achieve our goal of finding this long-term reliable source of funding without raising taxes on Iowa taxpayers."
The groups, which call themselves the Iowa Water and Land Legacy Coalition, released an expanded list of members:
Conservation Districts of Iowa
Ecosystem Service Exchange
Feed Energy Company
Greater Des Moines Partnership
Iowa Association of County Conservation Boards
Iowa Association of Municipal Utilities
Iowa Bicycle Coalition
Iowa Community Foundations
Iowa Conservation Alliance
Iowa Ducks Unlimited
Iowa Environmental Council
Iowa Interfaith Power & Light
Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation
Iowa Parks Foundation
Iowa Rivers Revival
Iowa Soybean Association
Iowa State Association of Counties
The Nature Conservancy