With Reclaim Idaho’s Invest in Idaho ballot initiative less than two weeks old, the grassroots organization has already collected more than 4,000 signatures in support of the measure. An estimated 3,500 came on Nov. 5 (Election Day) alone.
“We are hearing nothing but enthusiasm on the ground from volunteers and voters alike. Idahoans are fired up about investing in Idaho’s schools, teachers and children,” said Luke Mayville, Reclaim Idaho Co-Founder. “It’s clear Idahoans are tired of waiting on the legislature to address the state’s education and jobs crisis.”
The Invest in Idaho initiative would generate up to $200 million per year for Idaho’s public and charter schools. Investments would go into a Quality Education Fund which could be used for paying teachers competitive salaries, providing full-day kindergarten for Idaho kids, and strengthening Career-Technical training throughout the state, among other uses.
An estimated 250 Reclaim Idaho volunteers collected signatures outside polling places throughout the state, with an emphasis on rural areas. Among the towns/cities volunteers canvassed were Sandpoint, Bonners Ferry, Kooskia, Blanchard, Grangeville, Post Falls, Weiser, Payette, Caldwell, Rexburg, and Driggs.
“Reclaim Idaho’s values are rooted in rural and small-town communities. The people living in those areas have been ignored when it comes to their healthcare, their education and their future. We wanted to send a clear message that Reclaim Idaho is fighting for rural Idaho communities even if no one else is,” Mayville added.
Idaho is 50th in the nation when it comes to education investments. At the same time, the state left 6,300 STEM-related jobs unfilled in 2018 which resulted in $412 million in unclaimed wages. Reclaim Idaho must collect just over 55,000 signatures statewide, plus 6-percent of registered voters in 18 legislative districts by April 30, 2020 in order to put the initiative on the November 2020 ballot.
Reclaim Idaho also issued a news Release regarding Gov. Little’s K-12 Task Force recommending higher teacher salaries.
The latest iteration of Idaho’s K-12 Task Force has wrapped up its months-long run, making recommendations to Governor Little that include more competitive salaries for veteran teachers and options for full-day Kindergarten statewide.
“We applaud the Task Force’s decision to prioritize these goals for Idaho’s veteran educators and our children. It’s a valuable step toward addressing the state’s education crisis,” said Mayville. “It is our sincere hope the governor can work with the legislature to take action on these issues and improve the lives of Idaho’s kids no matter where they live.”
The current K-12 Task Force is the latest group formed to tackle Idaho’s education and jobs crisis. The original version met in 2013. The Workforce Development Task Force met in 2017. Both bodies issued numerous recommendations designed to increase the number of skilled workers in the state. However, in 2018, Idaho left more than 6,300 STEM-related jobs unfilled statewide which resulted in $412 million in unclaimed wages. Idaho also remains 50th in the nation when it comes to per-pupil investments.
“We wholeheartedly support many of the recommendations of the current K-12 Task Force. However, it is crucial the legislature take bold action this time around,” Mayville added.