Voices from the Idaho EdNews Community

Idahoans must speak up to protect Launch

A well-educated workforce is the engine that drives our economy. That’s why Democrats in the
Idaho Legislature were proud to support Idaho Launch earlier this year. Now accepting
applications, Launch is a monumental step forward for our state, covering 80% of the costs for
Idaho graduates pursuing in-demand careers, up to $8,000. From training nurses and welders
to equipping young people with the commercial driver’s licenses they need to bring our products
to market, Launch will allow more Idahoans to earn family-sustaining wages while helping
employers hire the workers they need.

Every industry in Idaho faces a pressing need for more qualified workers with specific skills. The
demands of the modern job market have evolved. Today almost 80% of all jobs require some
form of postsecondary education or training. In particular, there is a growing demand for workers
in “middle-skill” jobs — positions that require more than a diploma but less than a four-year
college degree like electricians, bookkeepers, and medical assistants.

I was encouraged to see the broad, statewide support that Idaho Launch garnered when it was
introduced in early 2023. Education leaders and every major business group in the state threw
their weight behind it. They recognized the positive economic benefits for students and
businesses alike. However, it was disheartening to see the unnecessary obstacles this program
faced within the Statehouse.

The ideological objections and the rise of far-right extremism within our Legislature’s Republican
caucus make it difficult for popular and much-needed investments like this to pass. Only a few
years ago, the same brand of obstructionism killed an $18 million, 3-year grant to support early
learning collaboratives across the states by making false claims that the locally designed
programs amounted to “indoctrination.” Similarly, certain Republican politicians denounced
Launch as “socialism,” ignoring our economy’s dire need for a qualified workforce. Those views
are out of touch with the majority of Idahoans who understand the importance of preparing our
youth for the jobs of tomorrow.

Without the unanimous support of Idaho Democrats in the Legislature, Idaho Launch would
have failed. In the House, it passed by a single vote. If one Democrat representative had lost
their election, Idahoans would be missing out on this smart investment to address serious
workforce challenges.

Sadly, far-right ideologues want to dismantle the progress we’re making. That’s why Idahoans
must speak out to protect Idaho Launch today. Contact your legislators and tell them you
support investing in our future workforce. Encourage eligible high school seniors to consider the
in-demand careers that await them with Idaho Launch.
Idaho Democrats remain committed to championing education investments to ensure the future
prosperity of our state. Together, we can build a brighter future for every Idahoan.

Rep. Lauren Necochea

Rep. Lauren Necochea

Representative Lauren Necochea is the House Assistant Democratic Leader, representing District 19. She is also chair of the Idaho Democratic Party.

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