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It’s no secret that legislators in Des Moines will be taking a long hard look at raising Iowa’s sales tax in order to fund the Natural Resources and Outdoor Recreation Trust Fund. But just how it might be done remains unknown, according to State Rep. John Wills (R-Dickinson).

Iowans voted in 2010 to approve a constitutional amendment to create the fund. The fund is set up to help improve water quality, protect and conserve Iowa’s productive farmland, expand natural areas and provide recreation.

The fund requires a sales tax increase of 3/8 of a penny for funding. And it may happen this year.

“It’ll be funded someday,” Wills said. “I’d just like to do it the right way. But I want more tax reform. That’s another big issue that the Senate has signaled they’re interested in doing. It wasn’t really a hot-button issue in the House in the caucuses, but I think we can still move people towards it.”

One option is to raise the sales tax a full penny. Then legislators could shift taxes by reducing property taxes and funding mental health through the sales tax. Wills said it could open the door to more income tax cuts.

“That’s kind of what I’m kind of taking a look at,” he said. “I made a statement at caucus that I would never have done an amendment like the IWILL amendment. We shouldn’t do that kind of stuff with our Constitution. But, it’s done and it’ll never get undone. So, let’s fix it and make it a conservative issue versus making it the liberal talking point and their issue.”

Wills said he’s worked hard trying to figure out formula changes and policy issues that can be addressed to make it a conservative issue.

“I think we’re getting it pretty close,” he said. “Mostly because I see the tax issue as being the more important part of that.”

Wills said a common theme from House Republicans is that they didn’t get elected to raise taxes.

“No kidding,” he said. “Neither did I. I’m chair of ALEC, I’m for limited government, fewer regulations and states rights. I don’t believe in raising taxes, but I believe that you can shift taxes and that’s a tremendous difference.”

Author: Jacob Hall