- Associated Press - Tuesday, April 5, 2016

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Iowa House Republicans have proposed a plan to allocate almost a half-billion dollars in funding to projects to improve Iowa’s water quality.

The Des Moines Register (https://dmreg.co/1TzkdJV ) reports that the plan would give $464 million in funding over the next 13 years to water quality projects by using money from a state infrastructure fund and tax revenue from Iowa residents’ water bills.

Gov. Terry Branstad says he plans to back the proposal, which was unveiled at a meeting Monday.

“We are very encouraged about the progress that’s being made and the approach that’s being taken,” Branstad said.

Branstad started a conversation over water quality issues in the Legislature this year. The House Republican’s proposal was an effort to seek an alternative to his original proposal, which would’ve redirected funds away from schools.

The House Republicans’ proposal would take $232 million away from the state’s Rebuild Iowa Infrastructure Fund, which collects about $190 million in state gambling revenue each year. The amount of that fund directed to water quality would start at $5 million in the 2017 fiscal year and then grow to $22 million in 2022 and beyond.

Another $232 million would come from a tax Iowa residents already pay on metered water through their bills.

The pieces combine for a total of $464 million by 2029, exceeding the amount Branstad proposed in his original plan. The nonpartisan state Legislative Services Agency said that his proposal would’ve generated about $435 million by 2029.

Rep. Kristin Running-Marquardt, D-Cedar Rapids, said that the House plan is a “baby step.”

“We have a big-time water quality problem in the state of Iowa,” Running-Marquardt said. “One thing that I worry about is that we’re doing too little too late.”

Senate Majority Leader Michael Gronstal, D-Council Bluffs, said the Senate would consider legislation passed by the House.

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Information from: The Des Moines Register, https://www.desmoinesregister.com

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