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.