Reclaim Idaho Quality Education Act to be on November ballot

On top of voting in a big midterm election on Nov. 8 and selecting top state leaders, Idahoans will decide the fate of the Quality Education Act.

Idaho Secretary of State Lawerence Denney announced Friday in a news release that the initiative would appear on the ballot in November’s general election, after he certified the petition signatures turned in earlier this month.

“This moment is the culmination of an entire year of hard work by over 1,000 volunteers,” Luke Mayville, co-founder and executive director of Reclaim Idaho, told the Idaho Statesman in a phone interview.

Reclaim Idaho is the grass-roots organization that proposed the initiative and gathered the petition signatures. It was also behind the ballot initiative for Medicaid expansion in Idaho, which passed in 2018 with more than 60% of the vote.

The education initiative, which aims to expand funding for Idaho’s public schools, proposes raising that money by pushing the corporate tax rate back up to 8% and increasing taxes by about 4.5% on individuals earning more than $250,000 a year and couples earning more than $500,000.

On July 6, the group presented the signatures for certification at the Idaho Capitol. At the time, Mayville told the Statesman he was confident the proposal would make it on the ballot.

In order for the initiative to qualify, it needed to receive at least 64,945 valid petition signatures, or 6% of all registered Idaho voters at the time of the previous general election, according to the secretary of state’s release. The initiative also needed signatures from at least 6% of registered voters in at least 18 legislative districts.

Reclaim Idaho gathered more than 100,000 signatures from all 44 counties, and hit the 6% threshold in “at least 19 legislative districts,” Denney’s office said.

Mayville said that before the November election, Reclaim Idaho will be working to get out the vote in all 44 counties with a door-knocking campaign. The kickoff to that will be an event in Ada County on Saturday, July 30, at Borah Park in Boise, where volunteers and others will convene at 9:30 a.m., according to Mayville.

Mayville said he is “confident” that the majority of Idahoans will vote “yes” once his organization shows them that the initiative will improve public schools through a “reasonable tax proposal.”

“The people of Idaho have an incredible opportunity to make big investments in K-12 education so that we keep more of our teachers and support staff in the classroom, strengthen our programs and pull our education system out of the shameful status of 50th out of 50 states,” said Mayville.

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Catherine Odom is an intern reporter at the Idaho Statesman. She is a rising junior at Northwestern University majoring in journalism and international studies.