Reclaim Idaho - education initiative

Luke Mayville, co-founder of Reclaim Idaho, speaks to visitors about the group’s education initiative during a Reclaim Idaho meeting at the Skyline Activities Center in Idaho Falls on Saturday, Feb. 8, 2020.

Reclaim Idaho will visit Idaho Falls on Saturday to collect signatures for a ballot initiative that would increase funding for K-12 education.

The group announced in a Thursday news release that it was stopping by Kate Curley Park at 3 p.m. Saturday. Reclaim Idaho co-founder Luke Mayville and other organizers will gather with supporters and local volunteers to garner interest toward the group’s Quality Education Act, a ballot initiative that would increase K-12 funding by more than $300 million annually.

The tour stop follows an August ruling from the Idaho Supreme Court in favor of initiative rights when it struck down a new Idaho ballot initiatives law that required signatures from 6% of registered voters in all 35 legislative districts to qualify for the ballot.

“Now that our initiative rights are restored, it’s time to exercise them,” Mayville said in the release. “If enough people step up and get involved in this signature drive, we will put the Quality Education Act on the ballot and give Idaho voters a chance to make historic investments in K-12 education.”

Ballot-initiative campaigns have reverted to needing to collect signatures from 6% of voters in 18 districts. Reclaim Idaho volunteers are seeking signatures across the state, the release said.

The Quality Education Act is funded by a tax increase for corporations and the wealthiest Idahoans, the release said. 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.

Idaho ranks last among 50 states and the District of Columbia in education funding per student, according to an annual report from the National Education Association published in April. Idaho invested $7,705 per student in 2019-20, which was $601 per student behind the next-lowest state, Utah.

A 2018 report by the state Board of Education found that one in 10 Idaho teachers are leaving the profession each year.

Reclaim Idaho is s nonpartisan, volunteer-driven organization that spearheaded the Medicaid Expansion ballot initiative. The measure provided health care access to over 100,000 Idahoans and more than $400 million annually in federal funds to Idaho to assist Idaho’s rural hospitals. It passed with 61% of the statewide vote in 2019.

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