In what otherwise is a busy, productive legislative session, Iowa lawmakers this year have failed to address what should be the important priority of extending the one-cent school infrastructure sales tax.
With the session nearing an end, the need for extension of the school tax, which sunsets in 2029, appears to have been forgotten or ignored.
As we have said before, we have an almost proprietary interest in this tax because Woodbury County was the first county 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 benefits of this tax speak for themselves in the form of school improvements across the state, but arguably no school district in Iowa has benefitted more from the tax than our local system. With revenue from the tax, the Sioux City school district has built new elementary schools, new middle schools, and three high school science wings, and a new Bryant Elementary School is under construction.
A variety of future infrastructure challenges remain for the local school district. For example, more elementary schools await replacement and by the time the tax sunsets, Sioux City's high schools will be nearly 60 years old.
To plan and bond today for the critical infrastructure projects of tomorrow, the Sioux City school district and districts across Iowa need an end to uncertainty about the future of the school infrastructure tax.
The issue didn't get the attention it deserved this year. As a result, we urge our local lawmakers to take the lead in pushing extension of the one-cent school infrastructure sales tax to passage during next year's legislative session.
This editorial appeared in the April 19 edition of the Sioux City Journal, another Lee Enterprises publication.