The Legislature ended the session with $25 million for the Resource Enhancement and Protection Fund, often referred to as REAP, from annual funding sources this year. In their 2014 annual report, the REAP Congress, which directs the workings of REAP and provide REAP policy suggestions, voted unanimously to recommend that the Iowa Legislature provide REAP with a total of $25 million this year in celebration of the 25th anniversary of the fund.
Governor Branstad vetoed this additional $9 million in funding. The governor vetoed $4 million in additional funding to REAP from the Rebuild Iowa Infrastructure Fund, which is made up of casino revenues that are not considered part of the regular budget. The governor indicated that this funding had to be vetoed to maintain a sustainable and predictable budget. The governor vetoed an additional $5 million for REAP in the so called “one-time funding” bill. The governor indicated that because of the funding commitments to commercial property tax reform and education reform, funding for projects like REAP needed to be cut to maintain a fiscally sound budget.
After the Governor’s veto, REAP will only receive $16 million, which represents the same level of funding that REAP received last year, the highest funding level for REAP since 2009 and 2010, the last time Democrats controlled the budget process. REAP provides funding for soil and water enhancement, county conservation, and parks and open spaces.
Governor Branstad also vetoed $11.2 million in one-time moneys for additional conservation and water quality programs, including the state’s nutrient reduction strategy water quality initiative, the soil conservation cost-share program, water quality grant projects through the Watershed Improvement Review Board, and closing agricultural drainage wells.