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Water quality funding bill advances to Iowa House

Photo courtesy of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)

Iowa Senators approved legislation to pay to clean up Iowa’s water Wednesday.

According to the Des Moines Register, the Senate voted 31-19 to approve Senate File 512. The measure would fund water quality projects by phasing in a plan with about $12 million in sales tax dollars Iowans already pay on their water bills. It would also use $15 million now used to pay off Vision Iowa project bonds.

Twenty-seven million dollars would be matched with about $23 million already being appropriated annually for water quality projects, providing a total of about $50 million per year when the plan is fully funded in 2021.

Republicans say the plan represents a fiscally sound policy approach because it would not raise state taxes. It also doesn’t take money from the state’s Rebuild Iowa Infrastructure Fund, which was included in a previous plan.

Democrats say the proposal would divert millions of dollars from projects needed to repair and upgrade state buildings. They say it would take money away from funding for education, health care and other state programs.

The bill still needs to be approved by the Iowa House which it faces uncertainty and time is quickly running out in the 2017 Legislature’s session.