TOADS special session wish list: school building fund, permanent K-12 bonuses

Idaho should put surplus dollars into a $500 million school building fund, and retire school supplemental levies, according to an advocacy group that includes several high-profile retired educators.

The group — Totally Optimistic Advocates Dedicated to Students, or TOADS — also wants this year’s one-time $1,000 bonuses for teachers, administrators and support staff made permanent.

TOADS issued its wish list Monday, three days before the Legislature convenes for what could be an eventful one-day special session. Gov. Brad Little has proposed one bill for consideration. It would provide $500 million in one-time tax credits, a $150 million-a-year cut in income tax rates, and $410 million per year for education, from sales tax collections.

Little’s proposal could be a done deal. He has enough co-sponsors to get the bill through the Legislature’s tax committees, and get it passed in both houses.

Still, TOADS is pushing for a different approach. The group says Idahoans want property tax relief, not another round of income tax cuts. Creating a $500 million building fund, and paying off Idaho’s record $218 million in supplemental levies, would replace school funding that now comes from local property taxes.

Making the bonuses permanent would cost about $37 million per year.

In addition, TOADS recommends a $50 million reserve fund to help schools recruit and retain teachers and staff.

TOADS, a nonprofit, lists as one of its goals “proposing policy aimed at increasing public K-postsecondary education funding.” Its members include former state Supreme Court Justice Robert Huntley; former state superintendent Jerry Evans; retired Boise schools Superintendent Don Coberly; Kuna schools Superintendent Wendy Johnson; and Reclaim Idaho co-founder Luke Mayville.


Kevin Richert

Kevin Richert

Senior reporter and blogger Kevin Richert specializes in education politics and education policy. He has more than 30 years of experience in Idaho journalism. He is a frequent guest on "Idaho Reports" on Idaho Public Television and "Idaho Matters" on Boise State Public Radio. Follow Kevin on Twitter: @KevinRichert. He can be reached at [email protected]

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