Extension of the one-cent school infrastructure sales tax remains alive for this session of the Iowa Legislature.
Under a bill proposed in the House, the penny Secure an Advanced Vision for Education tax would be extended for 20 years beyond its scheduled 2029 sunset, to 2049. The bill was passed by the House Education Committee, 22 to 1.
We urge lawmakers in both the House and Senate to push this issue over the finish line and send a bill for extension on to Gov. Kim Reynolds for signature.
The benefits of this tax speak for themselves in the form of school improvements, including new buildings, throughout Iowa. In Sioux City, revenue from the tax built or is building elementary schools, built middle schools and built science wings at each of the district's public high schools. Arguably, no district in the state has benefitted more from the school infrastructure tax.
Still, more work remains - here and elsewhere. In Sioux City, for example, the need for replacement of more elementary schools and additional improvements to existing high schools or construction of new high schools await decisions (by the time the tax is scheduled to sunset, local public high schools will be nearly 60 years old).
To plan and bond for critical future infrastructure projects, the Sioux City school district and districts throughout the state need an end to uncertainty about the future of this tax.
The roots of the tax stretch back 20 years to Woodbury County. This county was the first in Iowa to approve a 10-year, local-option sales tax for public school infrastructure (the tax first passed in 1998; county voters approved a 10-year extension in 2005). The tax was supported by Iowans through referendums in individual counties across the state as a local-option sales tax before it became a statewide tax in 2008.
Because the vision for a school infrastructure sales tax originated here and because so many Sioux City school children learn inside the many modern buildings and classrooms made possible by this tax, it seems appropriate for our local legislative delegation to lead the way for its extension.
This should be their message: No more pushing this issue off to another year. This is the year to get it done.