In the long list of unexpected news stories from 2020, theres this: A fight over funding Idaho public schools has reached the U.S. Supreme Court.
But lets take a break from writing about the legal maneuvers in the Reclaim Idaho K-12 voter initiative lawsuit.
Its big picture time. It comes down to two fundamental questions: How much should Idaho spend on public schools, and who ought to dig into their pockets to pay? This is a fight we all could have seen coming. Because its a fight weve been having for years.
The Reclaim Idaho Invest in Idaho initiative is, in essence, a reassignment of the education investment. If Reclaim Idaho succeeds in getting the initiative on the November ballot, if it passes, and if the 2021 Legislature enacts it more or less intact three separate and big ifs the K-12 funding picture changes significantly.
Corporations and wealthy Idahoans would pay directly into a fund for K-12, to the tune of $170 million to $200 million annually. The higher income taxes would affect only Idahoans making more than $250,000 or couples making more than $500,000 so Reclaim Idaho argues that it is proposing a tax increase for just 5 percent of the population.
The income taxes are somewhat but not exactly aligned with Idahos ever-growing supplemental property tax levy bill. Idahoans have a proven history of voting for taxes for schools, and the supplemental levies prove it. In 2019-20, Idahoans paid $214 million in voter-passed supplemental levies, nearly twice as much as they paid a decade ago.
So, will the new income taxes replace these property taxes, reducing the reliance on a tax Idahoans have long reviled? Not necessarily.
Its possible that property taxes will go down in some districts and that some districts may decide not to run supplemental levies, Reclaim Idaho says on its own website. However, there is no guarantee. Districts may decide to continue to raise local levy dollars in order to supplement new state dollars.
Of course, theres no way to guarantee what will happen with supplementals, which are on the books in 92 of Idahos 115 school districts. Theres no guarantee that the long list of possible uses for the new income taxes everything from teacher salaries and full-day kindergarten to special education services and art, music and drama programs would line up with what districts say they need, and what local voters are willing to finance.
And, of course, Reclaim Idaho cannot (and does not) promote its initiative as both a tax shift and a K-12 funding boost. In its Supreme Court filing Tuesday, Reclaim Idaho cited a recent National Education Association report that found Idaho dead last in the nation in per-pupil funding. As Reclaim Idaho Bonner County volunteer leader Linda Larson said in a June 6 court statement, My team of volunteers understood that the current level of funding for education in Idaho is a crisis.
And that message was resonating, Reclaim Idaho leaders say.
Before mid-March, and before the group suspended face-to-face petitioning, Reclaim Idaho said it was tapping into a growing cadre of volunteers. The group started in October with 143 volunteers. By March 10, the number had swelled to 546 volunteers, field director Ashley Prince said in a June 5 court statement.
From the middle of February to March 12, Reclaim Idahos signature count doubled from 15,000 to more than 30,000, co-founder Luke Mayville said in a June 5 court filing. That left the group more than halfway toward its goal, with an April 30 deadline. As Reclaim Idaho describes it, the only thing that halted the initiative was a global pandemic, which put an end to the signature drive and started a legal battle that has unfolded across three levels of the federal judiciary.
Maybe, indeed, momentum was on Reclaim Idahos side. The states lawyers have spent some of their time castigating Reclaim Idaho saying the groups own procrastination led to the initiatives demise. But Reclaim Idaho has already shown it knows how to get an initiative on the ballot, as it did with its successful 2018 Medicaid expansion drive. If group leaders say they were right on schedule, whos to say theyre wrong?
And maybe, once again, Reclaim Idaho had managed to tap into a reservoir of public frustration. After seven years of waiting for the Legislature to move on Medicaid expansion, Idaho voters were more than ready to do it themselves. Are voters just as frustrated about how much Idaho pays for schools and who pays the taxes that support K-12?
The Reclaim Idaho initiative challenges some very basic notions the Legislature holds about school funding and tax policy. While the Legislature has steadily increased K-12 funding in recent years, lawmakers have turned a blind eye to the increasing reliance on supplemental levies. And many lawmakers including House Majority Leader Mike Moyle, perhaps the Legislatures most powerful voice on tax policy contendthat the states corporate and personal income tax rates should be lower, not higher.
Right now, the state and Reclaim Idaho are arguing about the mechanics of online signature gathering, and the First Amendment implications of suspending an initiative during a public health crisis.
But lets not lose sight of the big-picture issue. The Reclaim Idaho initiative wont settle the debate over how we pay for schools. But it could put the question into sharper focus.
Each week, Kevin Richert writes an analysis on education policy and education politics. Look for it every Thursday.
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 KIVI 6 On Your Side; "Idaho Reports" on Idaho Public Television; and "Idaho Matters" on Boise State Public Radio. Follow Kevin on Twitter: @KevinRichert. He can be reached at [emailprotected]
- Income inequality in the United States - Wikipedia - January 5th, 2017 [January 5th, 2017]
- Basic Income as All-inclusive Democratic Subsidy - Basic Income News - February 7th, 2017 [February 7th, 2017]
- Basic income is superior to the job guarantee - Basic Income News - February 7th, 2017 [February 7th, 2017]
- CANADA: Over 10000 people have signed to support Basic Income - Basic Income News - February 7th, 2017 [February 7th, 2017]
- A response to 'The dangers of a basic income' - Basic Income News - February 7th, 2017 [February 7th, 2017]
- Ebay founder backs universal basic income test with $500000 pledge - Mashable - February 9th, 2017 [February 9th, 2017]
- OPINION: Human rights, basic needs - The Guardian - February 10th, 2017 [February 10th, 2017]
- Left-Wing America Steps Up Calls For Free Money, Jobs Guarantee - Daily Caller - February 10th, 2017 [February 10th, 2017]
- Guaranteed basic income proposed. - Bayshore Broadcasting News Centre - February 15th, 2017 [February 15th, 2017]
- World Economic Forum blog: Canada's basic income experiment will it work? - Basic Income News - February 16th, 2017 [February 16th, 2017]
- Expert: We Can Have Universal Basic Income and Jobs - Futurism - Futurism - February 18th, 2017 [February 18th, 2017]
- Ben Wray: Why both the right to work and the right not to work can set us free - CommonSpace - February 20th, 2017 [February 20th, 2017]
- VIDEO: Basic Income presentation at Meeting of the Minds Summit - Basic Income News - February 22nd, 2017 [February 22nd, 2017]
- Australia Needs A Universal Basic Income, And We Should Start ... - Huffington Post Australia - February 24th, 2017 [February 24th, 2017]
- A guaranteed income isn't the solution to widespread unemployment - Acton Institute (blog) - March 1st, 2017 [March 1st, 2017]
- Industry body bats for universal basic income for women - Times of India - March 8th, 2017 [March 8th, 2017]
- Basic Income in Argentine News - Basic Income News - March 10th, 2017 [March 10th, 2017]
- Basic-income guarantee is way to end poverty - Times Colonist - March 11th, 2017 [March 11th, 2017]
- Letters: Guaranteed income guarantees sloth - The Province - June 6th, 2017 [June 6th, 2017]
- Universal basic income: guarantee pay as way to improve quality of life - WatertownDailyTimes.com - June 6th, 2017 [June 6th, 2017]
- About That Universal Basic Income Idea - FITSNews - June 6th, 2017 [June 6th, 2017]
- Basic income plan doable: Northern study - The Sudbury Star - June 6th, 2017 [June 6th, 2017]
- Study of Iran's basic income shows it did not harm employment - Basic Income News - June 7th, 2017 [June 7th, 2017]
- Should all Americans receive a guaranteed income? - First Coast News - June 20th, 2017 [June 20th, 2017]
- Should all Americans receive a guaranteed income? - KPNX 12 News TV - June 21st, 2017 [June 21st, 2017]
- Should all Americans receive a guaranteed income? - 9NEWS.com - June 21st, 2017 [June 21st, 2017]
- Should all Americans receive a guaranteed income? - KHOU - June 24th, 2017 [June 24th, 2017]
- Net incomes under a Basic Income system - Basic Income News - July 1st, 2017 [July 1st, 2017]
- Basic Income Guarantee program moving forward for 2000 Lindsay residents - Kawartha Media Group - July 8th, 2017 [July 8th, 2017]
- UBI is just a bedtime story Elon Musk tells himself to help the super-wealthy sleep - Quartz - July 14th, 2017 [July 14th, 2017]
- NDP leadership candidate visits Guelph (8 photos) - GuelphToday - July 18th, 2017 [July 18th, 2017]
- Does Basic Income Solve Anything? Grasp the Arguments for and ... - Futurism - July 21st, 2017 [July 21st, 2017]
- Value in using tax system for basic income: Report - The Sudbury Star - July 21st, 2017 [July 21st, 2017]
- NEW ORLEANS, LA, US: Local basic income group begins to hold monthly meetings - Basic Income News - July 25th, 2017 [July 25th, 2017]
- More Calgarians struggle to feed their families over the summer months - CBC.ca - July 26th, 2017 [July 26th, 2017]
- Renfrew County dietitian recognized by board of health for provincial award - www.insideottawavalley.com/ - July 27th, 2017 [July 27th, 2017]
- EDITORIAL: Island needs dollars, not data, to cope with poverty - The Guardian - July 29th, 2017 [July 29th, 2017]
- DON PRIDMORE: Be careful what you wish for... - The Guardian - August 1st, 2017 [August 1st, 2017]
- Is a Well-Paying Job the next Entitlement Program? - Big Think (blog) - August 5th, 2017 [August 5th, 2017]
- Let's talk about a supplemental income - The Hindu - August 7th, 2017 [August 7th, 2017]
- Universal basic income proponent to speak in Boise - Idaho Press-Tribune - August 7th, 2017 [August 7th, 2017]
- Hashtag Trending Battery-free phone, Apple's China backlash - IT World Canada - August 10th, 2017 [August 10th, 2017]
- New Zealand Fabians host Basic Income panel - Basic Income News - August 13th, 2017 [August 13th, 2017]
- Universal Basic Infrastructure to help decrease India's poverty - Economic Times - August 14th, 2017 [August 14th, 2017]
- After lifting minimum wage, NDP government prepares to consult public about reducing poverty - Straight.com - August 16th, 2017 [August 16th, 2017]
- How Cities Can Rebuild the Social Safety Net - CityLab - August 24th, 2017 [August 24th, 2017]
- Food shopping at dollar stores | Brantford Expositor - Brantford Expositor - August 24th, 2017 [August 24th, 2017]
- 'Me too' and the basic income guarantee | Basic Income News - February 6th, 2018 [February 6th, 2018]
- Basic Income Now | It's time for dignity for all - March 17th, 2018 [March 17th, 2018]
- Is a Basic Income Guarantee the Right Choice for Ontario? - June 27th, 2018 [June 27th, 2018]
- The Ethics and Economics of the Basic Income Guarantee ... - September 18th, 2018 [September 18th, 2018]
- Basic Income Guarantee - Your Right to Economic Security ... - November 8th, 2018 [November 8th, 2018]
- Basic income could end food insecurity - Upstream - January 3rd, 2019 [January 3rd, 2019]
- 'Hartz reforms': how a benefits shakeup changed Germany ... - January 28th, 2019 [January 28th, 2019]
- Quick notes from Basic Income Guarantee Panel - falicon.com - January 28th, 2019 [January 28th, 2019]
- New book reviews the Namibian Basic Income pilot - Basic Income News - October 1st, 2019 [October 1st, 2019]
- Democrats focus on some Midwestern issues at Westerville debate, a departure from past three forums - cleveland.com - October 16th, 2019 [October 16th, 2019]
- Assembly Elections 2019: Why is the Congress evasive about NYAY scheme this poll season? - Moneycontrol.com - October 16th, 2019 [October 16th, 2019]
- Letter to the Editor: Universal basic income is inevitable as we head toward a fully automated society - The Post - October 16th, 2019 [October 16th, 2019]
- Democratic debate highlights: best and most substantive answers of the night - Vox.com - October 16th, 2019 [October 16th, 2019]
- Sanders: 'Damn right we will' have a job for every American | TheHill - The Hill - October 16th, 2019 [October 16th, 2019]
- 'Most Americans Don't Want To Work for the Federal Government' Says Andrew Yang, Trashing Federal Jobs Guarantee - Reason - October 16th, 2019 [October 16th, 2019]
- Basic Income as 40 Acres and a Mule - Basic Income News - October 16th, 2019 [October 16th, 2019]
- WAYNE YOUNG: Island voices must be heard - The Guardian - December 15th, 2019 [December 15th, 2019]
- The Guardian view on Finlands new PM: a different type of leadership - The Guardian - December 15th, 2019 [December 15th, 2019]
- 5 Psychological Forces That Turn People into Political Hacks | Aaron Pomerantz - Foundation for Economic Education - January 13th, 2020 [January 13th, 2020]
- P.E.I. groups say basic Income should not replace addictions, other supports - The Journal Pioneer - January 27th, 2020 [January 27th, 2020]
- Trump to let states overhaul Medicaid for the poor, seeking to change Obamacare without legislation - Washington Examiner - January 30th, 2020 [January 30th, 2020]
- Find ways to improve the revenue of farmers: Congress - The Hindu - January 30th, 2020 [January 30th, 2020]
- Eliminating Child Poverty With a Government Check - The New York Times - January 30th, 2020 [January 30th, 2020]
- Andrew Yang Expects 'Many' of His Supporters to Back Sanders in Iowa: We 'Have a Lot of Overlap' - Newsweek - January 30th, 2020 [January 30th, 2020]
- Life, Liberty, and Basic Income | Opinion - Harvard Crimson - February 29th, 2020 [February 29th, 2020]
- Lockdown to fight coronavirus is going to hit most Indian workers very hard - Livemint - March 26th, 2020 [March 26th, 2020]
- Beware of a lopsided lockdown - The Hindu - March 26th, 2020 [March 26th, 2020]
- We face a war against coronavirus and must mobilise accordingly | Free to read - Financial Times - March 26th, 2020 [March 26th, 2020]
- Coronavirus: Iain Duncan Smith says dont bring in universal basic income during pandemic as it would be disincentive to work - The Independent - March 26th, 2020 [March 26th, 2020]
- Solidarity Economicsfor the Coronavirus Crisis and Beyond - The American Prospect - March 26th, 2020 [March 26th, 2020]
- I've lived through plenty of social shocks this time we must learn the lessons - The Guardian - March 31st, 2020 [March 31st, 2020]
- Common Arguments Against Basic Income Don't apply to the Emergency BI - Basic Income News - March 31st, 2020 [March 31st, 2020]
- How a Basic Income And Jobs Guarantee Can Save The Economy From Coronavirus - The National Interest - March 31st, 2020 [March 31st, 2020]