Reclaim Idaho’s education initiative could boost K-12 funds by $323 million

By Ruth Brown, Idaho Reports

The Division of Financial Management now says the education initiative spearheaded by Reclaim Idaho could generate an additional $323 million for K-12 schools. 

Reclaim Idaho, the same group that successfully got Medicaid Expansion on the ballot in 2018, is spearheading this initiative, called the Quality Education Act. 

The need for the fiscal statement came after the legislature passed a bill in 2020, following Medicaid Expansion’s passage, saying ballot initiatives must include a hypothetical funding source as well as a fiscal impact statement, to be prepared by Idaho’s DFM. 

There was confusion about what the fiscal note would be initially due to tax policy changes that passed in the 2021 Legislative Session and were not in the first initiative.

The initiative would impose a tax on anyone making more than $250,000 a year. They would only pay new taxes on the income they make above $250,000. For married couples, they would only pay new taxes on income above $500,000.

“Months ago, when the legislature began pushing through massive tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy that would shrink Idaho’s tax base, we decided to make the new version of our initiative bigger and bolder,” said Reclaim Idaho co-founder Luke Mayville, in a press release Thursday. “Truthfully, even an additional $323 million per year will not fill all of the funding gaps in our education system. But this investment will help turn the tide and will give our kids better access to qualified teachers and the skills they need to earn a living.”

Reclaim Idaho still needs to collect signatures to get the education initiative on the ballot, but first the organization is set to go before the Idaho Supreme Court on June 29. 

The group is asking the Idaho Supreme Court to strike down Senate Bill 1110, which passed during the 2021 Legislative Session and increased the number of legislative districts necessary to qualify an initiative from 18 to 35. Under SB 1110, which Gov. Brad Little signed in April, they would need signatures from 6% of registered voters in all 35 districts. 

Reclaim Idaho and democratic leadership in the Legislature have repeatedly argued that SB 1110 would make the initiative process virtually impossible. Mayville was on the the Idaho Reports podcast this week to discuss the lawsuit and the Quality Education Act.

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