Reclaim Idaho says it has signatures from 18 legislative districts for education initiative | Regional News

Reclaim Idaho leaders say the organization has collected signatures from voters in 18 of Idaho’s legislative districts as they work to ensure their K-12 education funding initiative 12th grade is qualified to appear on the November 2022 ballots.

Reclaim Idaho volunteers and leaders hope to place an initiative called the Quality Education Act on the November 8 general election ballot to allow Idahoans to vote on whether to increase funding for the education of more than 300 million dollars a year. The initiative would increase corporate income tax rates and create a new, higher tax bracket for individuals earning more than $250,000 and married couples earning more than $500,000 a year.

Reclaim Idaho organizers have until the end of the month to submit their signatures for verification.

Collecting signatures from 6% of registered voters in 18 of Idaho’s 35 legislative districts is one of two goals Reclaim Idaho must achieve.

The other collects signatures from 6% of total registered voters statewide.

“It’s very important for people to understand that we’re not done yet,” Reclaim Idaho co-founder Luke Mayville told the Idaho Capital Sun. “In order to get an initiative on the ballot in Idaho, you don’t just need signatures from all 18 districts, you also need a very large total number of signatures.”

To meet the overall total signature threshold, Reclaim Idaho says it needs 65,000 signatures from registered voters, which will then need to be validated by county clerks and the Idaho Secretary of State’s office.

By late Tuesday morning, Reclaim Idaho had collected 86,276 signatures, Mayville said. But organizers say they actually need to collect 90,000 signatures by the end of the month because they believe 25-30% of signatures could be declared invalid by a county clerk or the secretary of state’s office. There are many reasons a signature could be declared invalid, Mayville said, including if the person signing writes the wrong address, isn’t actually registered to vote, or signs their name in a way that isn’t legible.

“So we can’t afford to just collect the required digital signatures and be done with it,” Mayville said. “We need to collect between 25,000 and 30,000 more, on top of the total required.”

What is the education ballot initiative for?

If the ballot initiative appears on the ballot and is approved by voters, the money could go to a number of different areas benefiting public education, including reducing class sizes, expanding technical career programs like welding or automotive technology, hiring more teachers, increasing funding for arts, drama, music, or English language learning programs, expansion of kindergarten and early learning programs and more.

“It’s very clear that the Idaho legislature has failed to fund our schools,” Mayville said.

Luke Mayville is one of the co-founders of Reclaim Idaho, which advocated statewide for Medicaid expansion in 2018.

As the Idaho Legislature passed one of the largest funding increases for schools in state history during the 2022 session, Mayville said schools are still historically underfunded. and especially over the last 10 to 15 years. He also said the average teacher salary in Idaho was lower than the average salaries of neighboring states, including Wyoming, Oregon and Washington, and said there was not enough funding for classes. business and technical skills that give students the skills to earn a living immediately after high school.

To pay for all this, corporate income tax rates would rise from 6% to 8%, and a new tax bracket of 10.925% would be created for individuals earning more than $250,000 and couples earning more than $500,000.

Some Republicans in the Legislative Assembly rejected the initiative. House Education Committee Chairman Lance Clow, R-Twin Falls, called it a huge tax hike. Senate Education Committee Chairman Steven Thayn, R-Emmett, told The Sun in August that he also opposed the initiative.

“First of all, I think it’s based on a false assumption that money will improve education, and that’s not necessarily the case,” Thayn said.

Thayn said he believes greater parental involvement, more school choice options and an overhaul of the state’s school funding formula are the most important education needs. .

How Reclaim Idaho got to this point

Reclaim Idaho is the nonpartisan, nonprofit organization that was also behind the success of the 2018 Medicaid Expansion ballot initiative, which voters approved with 60.6% of the vote this year- the.

Reclaim Idaho began a 22-day campaign to collect signatures for this education ballot initiative in the days following the Idaho Supreme Court’s Aug. 23 ruling rejecting more restrictive legislation on the initiative. vote, Senate Bill 1110, which the Idaho Legislature passed in 2021.

Under the Idaho Constitution, a ballot initiative is the process for the people to propose and vote on laws, independent of the Idaho Legislature. It is a form of direct democracy. And the Idaho Supreme Court, in its 2021 decision, called the initiative and referendum process “fundamental rights, reserved for the people of Idaho.”

Statewide, 600 to 700 people volunteered to collect signatures for the education ballot initiative, Mayville said. Although volunteers collect signatures at some large public events, one of Reclaim Idaho’s main tactics has been to knock on doors and talk to Idahoans one by one.

Volunteers often wear green shirts and caps with the Reclaim Idaho logo and navigate local neighborhoods with clipboards and an app.

The app gives volunteers a list of registered voters, organized by neighborhood, and lists the names and ages of registered voters at a given address. Volunteers can also update the app and the entire Reclaim Idaho database to indicate whether a voter has signed or refused to sign the initiative. All of this helps Reclaim Idaho volunteers know who to ask and get to work quickly, because non-voters’ signatures don’t count, and they say they don’t want to waste time talking to the same voters over and over again.

Even with the help of a sophisticated app, Mayville said Reclaim Idaho volunteers face an uphill battle due to signature collection requirements, Idaho’s remoteness and large geographic size.

This meant volunteers had to collect signatures across two time zones, stretching from the Canadian border to the Nevada desert, with much of the push occurring during the winter.

“What our organizers and volunteers have done across the state is extraordinary considering that we launched this signature campaign in the midst of a pandemic, at a time when the Idaho legislature was actively trying to kill initiative process,” Mayville said. “Despite this, organizers and volunteers across the state were determined to get this initiative off the ground. And the work they did substantiated a belief we have in an old-fashioned idea of ​​organizing – the idea that organizers shouldn’t just stand up for people, they should enable people to stand up for themselves and to assume leadership in their own communities.

What happens next with the education ballot initiative?

Reclaim Idaho organizers and volunteers have scheduled two more signature-gathering events in Boise this week in an attempt to reach their goal of 90,000.

By the end of the month, Treasure Valley and statewide organizers will turn their signatures to their local clerks. County clerks are required to verify signatures within 90 days. Then, in early July, Reclaim Idaho organizers will collect verified signatures from county clerks and submit them to the office of the Idaho Secretary of State for further counting and verification.

If the signatures add up and meet all requirements for legislative districts and statewide totals, the initiative will appear on the ballot as a proposal and will be given a number, such as Proposal One, Mayville said.

If the education ballot initiative makes it to the ballot, it would need a simple majority of votes to pass and be signed into law.

While the initiative is on the ballot, the job is still not done for Reclaim Idaho volunteers.

“The next phase is to build a campaign of persuasion aimed at the November election and ensure that more than 50% of the electorate votes yes for the Education Quality Act,” Mayville said.

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