The group behind Idaho’s successful Medicaid expansion ballot initiative is filing another one – this time to boost education spending.
Reclaim Idaho wants to add a new personal income bracket on people making more than $250,000 a year. Right now, everyone making more than about $11,000 a year pays the top rate.
The advocacy group filed its proposal with the state last week to begin the ballot initiative process. Some of the potential money would go to school districts, which could buy new textbooks, or fund special education or all-day kindergarten.
“We are leaving kids behind,” said Rebecca Schroeder, executive director of Reclaim Idaho.
“Some of our best teachers are leaving the state. So big picture here is if we want a workforce for the future, we need to make these investments now,” Schroeder said.
The ballot initiative would increase the top bracket by roughly three percent to 9.9 percent. The corporate income tax rate would also be bumped up by about one percent to eight percent – the same rate that was set from 1987 through 2000. Schroeder estimates it'll raise about $170 million annually for education.
If the initiative is successful, Schroeder says it would only affect about five percent of state residents.
“We’re basically reversing what the legislature has been doing over the last many years, which is just tax cut after cut for both the richest Idahoans, as well as for corporations.”
The Idaho Freedom Foundation, which has clashed with Reclaim Idaho in the past, blasted the proposal. In a statement, communications director Dustin Hurst called the proposal "a page taken out of the California public-sector union playbook."
"Dramatically hiking taxes on businesses, families, and consumers to throw more money at government schools, which struggle to prove their effectiveness, is no way to ensure Idaho kids get the education they deserve," Hurst said.
If certified by state officials, Reclaim Idaho will need to gather at least 55,000 signatures from across the state by the end of April.
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