Reclaim Idaho’s latest citizen ballot initiative has been certified by Idaho’s secretary of state, paving the way for the grass-roots organization to start collecting signatures for the measure.
Under existing rules, the group must secure 55,057 signatures statewide (6 percent of registered voters) and 6 percent of registered voters in 18 of Idaho’s 35 legislative districts. The initiative would bring up to $200 million per year of investments in Idaho’s K-12 public schools.
“We are at a crisis point with Idaho’s public schools and it’s time to act,” said Luke Mayville, co-founder of Reclaim Idaho. “We are hearing the same thing from people all over the state. They’re worried about losing teachers to other states and they’re concerned their kids will not have the skills they need to get a family-supporting job in their communities. The Legislature has had ample time to address the crisis. It’s now time for the people of Idaho to take action.”
Idaho’s education crisis is having a direct impact on jobs and Idaho’s economy. Last year, more than 6,300 STEM-related jobs went unfilled leaving $412 million in unclaimed wages. At the same time, working class Idahoans continue to shoulder an overall tax increase that started in 2006 when lawmakers repealed the “Maintenance and Operation” tax while increasing the sales tax. Since then, “supplemental” school levies have sky-rocketed, topping $200 million in 2018.
“A generation of Idaho kids have been left behind by the Legislature’s failure to address the education and jobs crisis in our state. We can’t afford to leave the next generation in the same quagmire,” said Reclaim Idaho Executive Director Rebecca Schroeder. “Every study, committee and working group studying this issue has come to the same conclusion: If we don’t start investing seriously in our schools, Idaho will continue to export jobs, prosperity and opportunity.”
The deadline to collect signatures is April 30, 2020, and the deadline to turn in signatures is May 1, 2019.