The group that was the driving force for Medicaid expansion now has its sights on education spending.

Reclaim Idaho has filed paperwork for a voter initiative that would boost corporate and high-end individual income tax rates, and put more than $170 million a year into K-12.

“The politicians in Boise give away our tax dollars to out-of-state interests while Idaho teachers are forced to pay for their own supplies. Idaho’s children find themselves at a competitive disadvantage, and property taxpayers in rural districts shoulder an unfair tax burden,” Reclaim Idaho Executive Director Rebecca Schroeder said in a news release.

The new money would come from two tax increases:

  • A corporate income tax rate of 8 percent, up from 6.925 percent.
  • A new individual income tax bracket for Idahoans making more than $250,000 a year. This tax rate would come to 9.925 percent, up from 6.925 percent.

Proponents say the plan would reduce the pressure on patrons, who paid more than $200 million in supplemental school property tax levies last year. And they say their plan would reverse a “corporate tax giveaway” legislators passed in 2018. When lawmakers passed corporate and personal income tax cuts, they say, the bulk of the corporate tax reductions benefited out-of-state business.

Proceeds from the new taxes would go into an account proponents call the “quality education fund.” Money from this account could be used for several purposes, including teacher salary increases, reducing class sizes, all-day kindergarten, career-technical programs and textbooks and classroom supplies.

Reclaim Idaho led a voter initiative to expand the state’s Medicaid program, after lawmakers had resisted expansion for seven years. That initiative, Proposition Two on the November 2018 ballot, passed with 61 percent support. The 2019 Legislature tied the expansion to work requirements, a proposal that came under fire during a public hearing Tuesday.

Reclaim Idaho’s education proposal also appears bound to run into opposition — specifically, from legislators who want further reductions in income taxes.

Originally posted on IdahoEdNews.org on September 4, 2019

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

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