By Ruth Brown, Idaho Reports
“When I say ‘vote’ you say ‘yes’” echoed outside the Idaho Secretary of State’s Office on Wednesday as enthusiastic supporters filled the statehouse hall.
Advocacy group Reclaim Idaho submitted signed petitions for its Quality Education Act to the office, marking the final step before getting the initiative on November’s ballot.
According to Reclaim Idaho, the Quality Education Act initiative would raise an estimated $323 million annually for public K-12 programs and better pay for teachers and support staff. The initiative would raise Idaho’s corporate tax rate to 8 percent to pay for the increase in funding.
Individuals earning more than $250,000 would pay a new 4.5 percent tax rate, but only on the income they earn over that threshold. Married couples would pay new taxes only on the income over $500,000.
Should the initiative pass, it would not raise taxes for anyone making less than $250,000 a year.
Reclaim co-founder Luke Mayville announced Wednesday that the group collected 100,000 signatures across Idaho from all 44 counties.
In Idaho, petitioners must collect nearly 65,000 valid signatures from at least 6 percent of voters in 18 legislative districts. Mayville said the group qualified in 20 districts.
The Idaho Secretary of State’s Office will conduct a final review of signatures, delivered in school backpacks by Reclaim Idaho. Organizers said they anticipate they will know within two weeks whether the initiative will appear on the ballot.
Teachers, education leaders and former school superintendents all spoke at the event, mentioning Idaho’s low teacher pay, large class size, and the low per-pupil funding allocation that schools get from the legislature.
If the initiative were to pass, Mayville said it would be “the single largest investment in public schools in a generation.”