POCATELLO, Idaho (KIFI/KIDK) - Reclaim Idaho spent the weekend in East Idaho campaigning for a ballot initiative to fund public schools.
The initiative would require Idaho to invest $170 to $200 million each year into K-12 education.
“Everything from competitive teacher salaries to full-day kindergarten to career-technical education. Things that are urgently needed in our school districts,” said Reclaim Idaho co-founder, Luke Mayville.
Mayville traveled from northern Idaho, where the 20 day tour of the state began, in a green camper sporting the initiative's slogan, 'Invest in Idaho.'
“We’ve been to Idaho Falls, earlier this morning we were in Blackfoot, and then we were in Teton Valley,” Mayville said. Pocatello was his last stop for the eastern region of the state.
Reclaim Idaho led a successful campaign to expand medicaid in the state in 2018. Now, the group is focusing on education.
“The state of education is not great. We want it to be fantastic,” said former teacher and Reclaim Idaho volunteer, Mary McAleese.
The initiative would raise teacher salary, which McAleese said is too low to keep good teachers.
“I took early retirement at 55, because we had taken a big pay cut around 2007 or so, and my salary did not come up to the level where it was,” McAleese said.
The initiative also focuses on providing skills for children to be successful.
“Things like agricultural science and welding. The kinds of training that can give young people the chance to make a living when they graduate,” Mayville said.
During the tour stop, Mayville helped train volunteers to gather signatures and spread the word about the initiative.
“One of the first questions we get is, ‘Where is this money coming from?’ It’s very simple. This initiative aims to shift the burden away from local property taxes and bring more dollars back from the state of Idaho,” Mayville said.
Reclaim Idaho's initiative would restore the 8 percent corporate income tax rate from 20 years ago. It would also increase the marginal tax rate for individuals making more than $250,000 a year, or a married couple with a $500,000 combined income.
Mayville calls it a "modest change" in the tax codes.
“Because it doesn’t apply to the first half a million dollars made by a family. It’s just the money they make over half a million dollars in a single year,” Mayville said.
During his tour, Mayville said he's seen a lot of support in southeast Idaho, like former teacher and current volunteer, Pat Feuerborn.
“I retired when my position was cut in the schools as a library teacher. I believe passionately in the need for education and quality teachers in the schools,” Feuerborn said.
To get the initiative on the 2020 November ballot, the group needs 55,000 signatures from 18 legislative districts by April 30.
You can learn about the campaign here.