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Reclaim Idaho delivers signatures for Quality Education Act to Secretary of State

Reclaim Idaho volunteers gather outside the Idaho State Capitol, with backpacks full of signatures supporting their legislation.
Andrew Severance
/
Boise State Public Radio News
Reclaim Idaho supporters gather at the Idaho State Capitol. Signatures in support of the Quality Education Act fill the backpacks; they were later delivered to the Secretary of State.

A group demanding better public education rallied at the State Capitol on Wednesday, where they delivered enough signatures to hopefully put a school reform measure on the November ballot.

Reclaim Idaho was able to obtain over 100,000 signatures in support of its Quality Education Act. All of the signatures were delivered to the Idaho Secretary of State, with volunteers carrying backpacks full of paper into the office.

The Quality Education Act would increase annual K-12 funding by $323 million. It would be funded by an income tax on high-income Idahoans and a corporate income tax increase to 8%.

Speakers at the rally argued the act is necessary to increase pay and retain teachers across the state.

Schools across Idaho are struggling with over 700 reported vacancies, and more than half of all Idaho teachers are considering leaving the profession. 30 of those vacancies are in Blaine County, where Blanca Romero is a teacher and school board member.

"No one can take these jobs because they can’t afford to live on a teacher’s salary in Blaine County," Romero said during her speech at the rally.

After speeches from teachers, business owners, and school board executives, supporters lined the halls of the Capitol to send their signatures to the Secretary of State's office.

They passed along backpacks full of paper, labeled with each of the Idaho counties.

Inside the Capitol as Reclaim Idaho supporters submitted their signatures to the Secretary of State
Andrew Severance
/
Boise State Public Radio News
Leah Jones (second from left) holds a backpack with signatures supporting the Quality Education Act from Twin Falls County, where she teaches second grade.

Reclaim Idaho’s founder, Luke Mayville, says citizens' action is needed because Idaho’s per-student spending is ranked last in the nation.

"In recent decades, especially in the last 20 years, the majority of our legislators have failed to fulfill their obligation," Mayville says.

To get a measure on the ballot, groups must obtain signatures from at least 6% of eligible voters in 18 Idaho districts. That equals approximately 65,000 signatures.

Reclaim Idaho achieved that goal in 20 districts, Mayville says.

Each district has already verified the signatures coming from its jurisdiction. Once the Secretary of State verifies them again, the Quality Education Act will appear on Idaho ballots in November.

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