Like last year, extension of the penny Secure an Advanced Vision for Education, or SAVE, tax is halfway to reality at the Iowa Statehouse this year. On Wednesday, the House passed an extension of the tax to 2050.
The school infrastructure tax, which is scheduled to sunset in 2029, passed the House last year, as well, but didn't get a vote in the Senate. This year, the extension passed the Senate Education Committee and awaits a decision by the Ways and Means Committee. If Ways and Means passes the bill, it will move to floor debate.
“This is one of the most important pieces of legislation that we will pass all session,” said Rep. Jacob Bossman, R-Sioux City. “Not only does this bill provide schools with resources to update aging facilities, improve security, and upgrade classroom technology, it also provides local residents with significant property tax relief. It is a win-win for both schools and taxpayers.”
As we have said before in this space, we have an almost proprietary interest in the tax because its roots stretch back more than 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.
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 benefited 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).
We urge the Senate to join the House and help school districts throughout Iowa plan and bond for critical future infrastructure projects by ending uncertainty about SAVE with this extension to 2050.