BOISE, Idaho — As part of Gov. Brad Little’s proposed legislation that lawmakers will take up during the special session next week, if approved, the bill would invest $410 million dollars into education. But the proposal from Little is very similar to that of Reclaim Idaho’s Quality Education Act.
"$330 million will go toward K-12 public schools so districts can dedicate more of their funding to immediate needs," Little said. “We’re also putting $80 million to fund training for in-demand careers to prepare our institutions for the likely increase in workforce development training that occurs during times like these."
The bill proposed by Little has many similarities to the Quality Education Act ballot initiative by Reclaim Idaho: both look to fund education in Idaho, but in a slightly different way.
“I don’t think it's an either-or, at least we haven’t heard that from the attorney general and I think Reclaim Idaho did a masterful job of making sure Idahoans realize we had a problem in education and that we needed to do more and that we needed this investment so I think they should take a bow for sure because they have pushed this to the forefront, and I think they’ve helped get this going,” Democratic lawmaker Janie Ward-Engelking of Boise said.
The Quality Education Act would be paid for by restoring the corporate income tax rate to 8% adding an income tax to the state's highest earners. Little's proposal looks to consolidate the income tax brackets to a flat tax at 5.8% for both individuals and corporations.
“The initiative raises taxes. The last thing you want to do when people are having a hard time is say “oh here we’ll help you out, we’re going to raise your taxes,” Little said.
Luke Mayville, co-founder of Reclaim Idaho, said while this proposal is a victory for education it has some bad elements.
“This proposed investment in education is a big step forward for Idaho and a victory for the thousands of volunteer petitioners and petition signers across the state who’ve called for large-scale investments in our public schools. The proposal contains some bad elements. For one, it is clearly designed to supplant the Quality Education Act— an initiative that earned a place on the ballot after gaining the signatures of over 100,000 Idahoans. And when it comes to tax policy, the Governor’s proposal overburdens the middle class and gives unneeded tax breaks to large corporations and the wealthy. But on balance, the bad elements of the Governor’s proposal are outweighed by the good. Even as the proposal aims to supplant the Quality Education Act, it hands a major victory to the thousands of volunteers and supporters who circulated and signed the initiative. The Governor proposes $410 million in ongoing funding for education. An investment of this scale would never have been on the table if not for the Quality Education Act campaign.”
The governor’s bill also places an advisory measure on the ballot in November. The measure is to see if Idahoans agree with how things play out. If the bill is passed by the legislature, it will repeal the Quality Education Act if voters give it the green light in November.