BOISE, Idaho (KIFI) – The Idaho Secretary of State has given volunteers the green light to begin collecting signatures for the Quality Education Act.
It is a ballot initiative that would boost funding for K-12 education by over $200 million annually.
Reclaim Idaho, the organization that spearheaded the 2018 campaign to expand Medicaid, says a boost in
education funding is needed to give Idaho kids access to qualified teachers and the skills they need to earn a living.
According to numbers from the State Department of Education, the average Idaho teacher salary dropped by nearly $900 last year. And a 2018 report by the State Board of Education found 1 in 10 Idaho teachers are leaving the
profession each year.
The Quality Education Act is paid for by a tax increase for corporations and the wealthiest Idahoans. The initiative does not raise taxes on anyone making under $250,000 per year. Individuals earning over $250,000 would pay new taxes only on the income they earn above $250,000. Married couples would pay new taxes only on the income they earn above $500,000.
“Every Idaho child deserves a quality education—the vast majority of Idahoans believe this. But for too many years, our legislature has failed to invest in our kids," Reclaim Idaho co-founder Luke Mayville said. "The Quality Education Act will turn the tide and give our kids better access to qualified teachers and the skills they need to make a living.”
Reclaim Idaho filed a lawsuit last month asking the Idaho Supreme Court to strike down Idaho’s new anti-initiatives law, which was signed by Governor Little on April 17. Critics of the new law say it gives Idaho the most restrictive initiative process in the nation and makes grassroots initiative campaigns virtually impossible. The new law requires campaigns to collect signatures from 6% of registered voters in each of Idaho’s 35 legislative districts—up from the 18 districts previously required.
The Idaho Supreme Court will hear the case on June 29. In the event that Reclaim Idaho prevails in court, the organization will continue its signature drive to place the Quality Education Act on the ballot. If the Court does not strike down the new anti-initiatives law, Reclaim Idaho will likely put its campaign for education funding on hold and instead proceed with a signature drive to qualify the Initiative Rights Act for the ballot.