Sixty-two percent of Iowa voters just followed Minnesota's lead, and voted to allocate 3/8th of a percent of the next increase in the state sales tax for conservation. Unfortunately for Iowa's sportsmen and women and the environment, the Iowa state constitution does not allow the people of Iowa to vote to tax themselves more. Only the legislature can increase taxes. Iowans can vote to place in the constitution that a certain percentage of a future tax increase will be allocated to a specific purpose. In the recent election, the Republicans took over one half of the state house and the governorship, and consistent with 2010 anti-tax conservative dogma, are refusing to raise the sales tax. It is contrary to popular will, as most Iowans' understanding was that the tax would be raised would if they voted yes.
Of course, there is talk of taking the money from "other sources". We had that discussion in Minnesota. When people have to choose between their kid's school (or their health care, transportation, and public safety services, for that matter), and conservation, the immediate need of protecting the existing public service trumps conservation. There is this right-wing trick: "I'm for conservation, not tax increases", as one Iowa Republican legislator said in the Des Moines Register. The result of this politics of pitting important and needed public services against a pro-hunting and angling conservation initiative means support collapses for conservation. The conservation initiative has to be a new revenue source, a new tax. There's no getting around it.
Now that the GOP is in power in a number of state governments and controls half of congress, with a rabidly anti-public sector, anti-government tea party movement as a core of its base, we will see new attacks on hunting and angling interests as we are seeing in Iowa right now. We have problems with some progressives, generally in the Democratic party, who view hunting as a value-neutral activity, rather than a positive activity that deserves government support. With the conservative movement, we are dealing with an ideology that will assure hunting's continued decline.