The Quality Education Act, an election initiative to raise $323 million for K-12 education, is one step closer to November’s ballot, after organizers submitted more than 100,000 signatures to the office. of the Secretary of State on Wednesday.
Reclaim Idaho, the organization behind the initiative, first submitted the signatures in May for county-level verification. They will now go through a second phase of verification at the state level, and that will determine whether the initiative appears on the ballot. Reclaim Idaho is the same nonpartisan organization that campaigned for Medicaid expansion, which received 61% of the vote statewide in 2018.
In order to qualify for the ballot, organizers of the initiative must collect valid signatures from at least 6% of registered voters statewide and 6% of voters in 18 legislative districts. Reclaim volunteers began collecting signatures in 2021, collecting over 100,000 signatures from 6% of voters in at least 20 legislative districts. The organization predicts that around 30% of its signatures will be rejected.
If it goes to the polls and receives a simple majority vote, the Quality Education Act would generate $323 million to fund K-12 programs, including technical career paths like carpentry and welding. , as well as artistic programs. It would also fund pay increases for teachers and school support staff.
To raise funds, the initiative would increase the corporate tax rate to 8%. It would create a tax rate of 10.925% for individual incomes over $250,000 and for family incomes over $500,000. Taxpayers earning less than $250,000 would not see a tax increase and the initiative will not affect property taxes.
Reclaim Idaho co-founder Luke Mayville spoke at Wednesday’s event, surrounded by at least 100 volunteers, most dressed in Reclaim’s signature green shirts. More than 50 backpacks filled with signatures sat below the podium, some labeled with the names of Idaho counties.
“(This initiative) is a chance to declare that our children should always be our first priority and that our government should always put their needs ahead of the demands of any special interest group,” Mayville said. “The Quality Education Act gives Idahoans a chance to claim a principle our state’s founders declared 132 years ago that every child in Idaho deserves a quality education. “
Mayville was joined by several other speakers, including ninth-grader Anise Welty; Blaine County School Board Member Blanca Green; Best Bath owner Gary Multanen; and former Boise Superintendent Don Coberly.
Second-grade teacher Leah Jones also spoke about her experience in the Twin Falls School District. The district is one of the most underfunded in the state, according to Mayville, spending less than $7,000 per student, well below the Idaho average. Idaho is 50th in the nation for spending per student.
“Our children deserve better, so much better,” Jones said. “If we truly believe that every child in Idaho deserves a quality education, we must act now to provide more support for our educators.”
After the speeches, Reclaim organizers passed backpacks from person to person from the Capitol steps around the rotunda and up to the Secretary of State’s office.
Now Reclaim is waiting to hear if the initiative will be on the ballot. Meanwhile, the organization has scheduled a door-to-door to inform voters about the Education Quality Act on July 30.
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