Reclaim Idaho submits 100,000 signatures in support of the Quality Education Act

The Quality Education Act, a voter initiative aimed at generating $323 million for K-12 education, is one step closer to November’s ballot, after organizers submitted over 100,000 signatures to the secretary of state’s office Wednesday.  

Reclaim Idaho co-founder Luke Mayville held a copy of the Idaho Constitution during his speech on Wednesday.

Reclaim Idaho, the organization behind the initiative, first submitted the signatures in May for verification at the county level. They will now go through a second verification phase at the state level, and this will determine whether the initiative appears on the ballot. Reclaim Idaho is the same nonpartisan organization that campaigned for Medicaid expansion, which received 61% of the statewide vote in 2018.

In order to qualify for the ballot, initiative organizers must collect valid signatures from at least 6% of registered voters statewide and from 6% of voters in 18 legislative districts. Reclaim volunteers began gathering signatures in 2021, they collected more than 100,000 signatures from 6% of voters in at least 20 legislative districts. The organization predicts that about 30% of its signatures will be rejected. 

If it makes the ballot and receives a simple majority vote, the Quality Education Act would generate $323 million to fund K-12 programs, including career-technical tracks like carpentry and welding, as well as arts programs. It would also fund pay increases for teachers and school support staff. 

To raise the money, the initiative would increase the corporate income tax rate to 8%. It would create a 10.925% tax rate for individual incomes exceeding $250,000, and for family incomes exceeding $500,000. Taxpayers earning less than $250,000 would not see a tax increase and the initiative will not affect property taxes.

Reclaim Idaho co-founder Luke Mayville spoke at Wednesday’s event, surrounded by at least 100 volunteers, most clad in Reclaim’s signature green shirts. Over 50 signature-filled backpacks sat beneath the podium, some labeled with the names of Idaho counties.

“(This initiative) is a chance to declare that our kids should always be our first priority, and that our government should always put their needs before the demands of any special interest group,” said Mayville. “The Quality Education Act gives the people of Idaho a chance to reclaim a principle that the founders of our state declared 132 years ago, that every Idaho child deserves a quality education.”

At least 100 Reclaim Idaho volunteers gathered at the Capitol Wednesday in support of the Quality Education Act.

Mayville was joined by several other speakers, including ninth-grader Anise Welty; Blaine County school board member Blanca Green; Best Bath owner Gary Multanen; and former Boise superintendent Don Coberly.

Second-grade teacher Leah Jones also spoke about her experience in the Twin Falls school district. The district is one of the most underfunded in the state, according to Mayville, spending less than $7,000 per student, well below Idaho’s average. Idaho is 50th in the nation for per-student spending.

“Our kids deserve better, so much better,” said Jones. “If we truly believe that every Idaho child deserves a quality education, we must act now to provide more support for our educators.”

Following the speeches, Reclaim organizers passed backpacks one person to the next from the Capitol steps around the rotunda and into the secretary of state’s office.

Now, Reclaim waits to hear if the initiative will be on the ballot. In the meantime, the organization scheduled a door-knock to educate voters about the Quality Education Act on July 30.

Sadie Dittenber

Sadie Dittenber

Reporter Sadie Dittenber focuses on K-12 policy and politics. She is a College of Idaho graduate, born and raised in the Treasure Valley. You can follow Sadie on Twitter @sadiedittenber and send her news tips at [email protected].

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