Citing the coronavirus pandemic, organizers have suspended their push for a voter initiative to increase income taxes to fund education.
“The very nature of the ballot initiative process requires one-on-one contact with thousands of voters, which is contrary to the advice and guidance being given by scientists and health officials all over the country,” Reclaim Idaho said in a statement Wednesday. “We have no desire to put our volunteers or Idaho citizens at risk of contracting COVID-19. We are ceasing all efforts to gather signatures for our latest initiative effective immediately.”
The “Invest in Idaho” initiative called for increasing corporate income tax rates and individual income tax rates for Idahoans making $250,000 or more per year.
The proceeds, projected at more than $170 million, would have gone into a separate state account, which could have been used to increase teacher salaries, reduce class sizes, fund all-day kindergarten, support career-technical programs and pay for textbooks and classroom supplies.
The deadline to get an initiative on the ballot is April 30. State law requires groups to gather more than 55,000 signatures — and collect signatures from 6 percent of voters in 18 of Idaho’s 35 legislative districts.
Reclaim Idaho says it had gathered more than 30,000 signatures, qualifying or very nearly qualifying in eight legislative districts.
“We saw momentum build toward qualifying this initiative from the very start,” Reclaim Idaho co-founder Luke Mayville said.
Reclaim Idaho was the driving force behind the Medicaid expansion initiative, which passed in November 2018.