Idaho Democrats are hoping to cash in on an arcane — but potentially costly — change in education funding.
In a pair of fundraising emails, Democrats are accusing Gov. Brad Little and Statehouse Republicans of abandoning their promise to boost K-12 spending. At the crux of the issue: Idaho is shifting away from a pandemic-era funding model based on enrollment, returning to a model based on school attendance. As Idaho Education News reported last week, the shift might, or might not, cut K-12 spending by $115 million.
Reclaim Idaho has made the possible $115 million cut the focus of an online petition drive targeting Little.
The first fundraising email came Friday, from state Democratic Party chair Lauren Necochea, a House member from Boise.
“We made a promise to our schools when the Idaho Legislature enacted (House Bill) 1, a $330 million school funding boost last fall,” said Necochea, who voted for HB 1 during the one-day legislative session in September. “Idaho Democrats were thrilled to finally address school investment.”
Necochea criticized Little for pushing for the return to attendance-based funding — a model that she says penalizes at-risk students.
Tuesday’s state party fundraising email was more pointed, accusing Republicans of finding “a loophole to continue their rampage against public education.”
The party’s fundraising email later says, “With Republicans weaseling out of the promised funding, schools are having to make crucial decisions between basic facility maintenance and necessary teacher raises to stop educators from leaving Idaho.”