Concerns raised over Reclaim Idaho's Quality Education Act ballot initiative

Quality Education Act
Posted at 5:19 PM, Jul 26, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-26 19:19:28-04

IDAHO — After months of gathering signatures across the state, the group Reclaim Idahogathered enough signatures to have their ballot initiative, the Quality Education Act, certified by the Secretary of State’s Office. But, some concerns were raised, forcing state officials to take a deeper look into the initiative’s language and intentions.

Anarticle, written by theTax Foundationpointed out what author Jared Walczak dubbed “a series of errors.”

“That [article] was actually forwarded to us from a couple of different sources,” Chief Deputy Secretary of State Chad Houck said. “We then looked at the article and it did then raise some questions. We took those questions to the Attorney General’s Office about two weeks ago actually.”

According to Reclaim Idaho, the ballot initiative, “would increase funding for K-12 public schools by $323 million a year."

If passed, the act would put no new taxes on anyone making under $250,000 a year and would restore the corporate income tax rate to 8%, while also adding a 4.5% income tax on amounts earned over $500,000 a year for married couples or $250,000 a year for individuals.

Reclaim Idaho campaigned on this, collecting signatures from all across the state, but now concerns are being raised over how the initiative would be implemented if passed.

According to the Attorney General’s Office, “the ballot measure uses the 2021 version of the statute as the base language to which it then applies amendments. If the language in the ballot measure were enacted it would disregard all the 2022 legislative amendments that lowered tax rates.”

So, the current tax rates could fall back to their 2021 levels as stated, imposing tax increases across most incomes and raising nearly $570 million for education.

“The initiative has always been designed to include no new taxes. None at all on anyone making under a quarter million dollars a year,” Co-Founder of Reclaim Idaho Luke Mayville said. “Some of our critics believe that tax rates on the lower brackets would be restored to what they used to be before. That is incorrect if you look at the clear text of the initiative.”

What now?

The language of the initiative cannot be changed. According to Chief Deputy Attorney General Brian Kane, “there is nothing that we can do at this point about the ballot language or the text of the initiative. If it passes, it will be up to the legislature to sort it out as it sees fit.”

Mayville says if the Legislature or any government agency decides to interpret the intention of the Quality Education Act in any other way that was not written into the initiative, Reclaim Idaho is prepared to take this issue to court if necessary.

Now, the choice comes down to voters. At this stage in the process, any voter or group of voters were able to prepare and file an, for or against any measure before July 20.

Both Reclaim Idaho and The Idaho Freedom Foundation submitted Pro’s and Con’s on the initiative.

Rebuttal arguments may be submitted no later than August 1 according to the Secretary of State’s website and voter Pamphlets will be printed and distributed by the Secretary of State no later than September 25.