Chris Valiante didn’t volunteer for the Reclaim Idaho Medicaid expansion ballot initiative but he has skin in the game this time around as Invest in Idaho sweeps across the state in their “20 Days of Action” tour.
He turns to his daughter sitting at Wildlife Brewery on Saturday night, enjoying pizza and live band, Valiante said working to support public schools is personal. Cora is in Kindergarten and he believes in public schools while acknowledging that Idaho is second to last in the nation when it comes to public education.
“Even if I didn't have kids, a good educational system should be the right of every Idahoan,” said Valiante.
Saturday evening, volunteers from Invest in Idaho, a re-brand of Reclaim Idaho, stopped at Wildlife in Victor on tour to spread the message and gather signatures that could ultimately place the initiative on the November ballot. The goal is to infuse education funding through the Quality Education Fund, which in turn, would be distributed to districts in accordance with the number of students attending school in a district.
For Teton County, that could mean an additional $600 more dollars spent on each public school student. According to the U.S Census Bureau, Idaho spends an average of $7,400 per student compared to the national average of $12,200.
According to their web site, Invest in Idaho is looking to invest $170 million in Kindergarten through twelfth grade by restoring Idaho’s corporate tax rate to 8 percent and increasing the tax rate on those making over $250,000 a year or on couples who earn over a half of a million in a year.
Invest in Idaho plans to use the funding toward reducing class sizes, attracting and retaining highly qualified teachers and support staff, providing career technical education and providing special education services among other needs.
According to the Post Register, the budget proposed by Gov. Brad Little gives $2 billion for K-12 education in Idaho, including nearly $38 million for increased teacher pay.
Alice Stevenson is one of 12 volunteers in Teton County working toward collecting the needed 6 percent of registered voters on the statewide ballot. She worked to help Reclaim Idaho get the Medicaid Expansion on the ballot in 2018 and feels confident again that Teton County can pull through again.
So far about 15,000 signatures have been collected statewide including more than 600 in Teton County. The deadline to submit the petition is April 30.