Voices from the Idaho EdNews Community

Idaho Freedom Foundation pushes for new welfare program

Surprisingly, the Idaho Freedom Foundation (IFF) is pushing for a new welfare program in Idaho. The organization that supposedly supports limited government is pushing for the establishment of a new system where parents of school-aged children get tax money to fund their children’s education. The IFF has called this Educational Choice or School Choice.

Welfare, as defined in the Oxford English Dictionary is, “a system whereby the state undertakes to protect the health and well-being of its citizens… by means of grants, pensions, and other benefits.” The state granting money to families for school choice clearly falls into this definition.

That’s right, the Idaho Freedom Foundation (IFF) supports the redistribution of tax dollars in Idaho. They believe in taking money from taxpayers and giving it to those with children, no matter how much the parent has paid in Idaho income tax. This redistribution of tax dollars will happen without input or oversight from the State Board of Education, without input or oversight of local boards of education, or from any other elected official.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau the median income in Idaho is about $55,800. Idaho income tax on that median income is about $2,600.  Currently Idaho pays about $7,800 per pupil to each school district.  Under the IFF’s proposal, the family making the median income would receive $5,200 in state tax dollars beyond what they paid in taxes.  In fact, only families with incomes above about $168,000 would pay more in state taxes than they received from School Choice.

This should not be a surprise to anyone who follows the antics of the IFF. They are large recipients of federal welfare.  Donations to the IFF, unlike donations to many lobbying and political action groups, are tax deductible. Tax deductions are essentially money that the federal government chooses not to collect.  As the Cato Institute explains, “The federal tax code contains many deductions, credits, and exemptions that distort investment and create unequal tax treatment of individuals and businesses…preferences for businesses are a form of corporate welfare.”  So every taxpayer is incentivized to donate to the IFF.  If that isn’t a government subsidy—Federal Welfare – then I don’t know what is.

That Federal Welfare is on top of the $123,883 the IFF received directly from the federal government under the Payroll Protection Program (PPP). That doesn’t include the nearly $2 million five of the eight Idaho Freedom Foundation’s board members received in federal welfare under PPP.

While the leaders IFF says they “advance conservative principles –limited government, free markets and self-reliance” the evidence suggests that what they really want is their hands on the state’s money.

By the way, if the IFF does get the Legislature to pass School Choice and funnel tax payer money into parent’s hands, I’ll send my children to a school that teaches critical race theory.  The IFF leaders hate that concept, but with School Choice, as a parent, it will be my right to choose what kind of education my children receive.  Do you think the IFF will want state money to fight me on that?


Randy Magen

Randy Magen

Randy Magen is the director of the School of Social work at Boise State University. His work includes research, program evaluation, foundations of social work practice, social work interviewing and social work with groups.

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