Now that the $55M LPOSD levy has failed, one question remains: Why is the state not funding our school facilities?
In years past, school funding was primarily a property tax-based system. Due to the small population of Idaho, the funding base was unable to meet the needs of school districts.
In 1988, Idaho voters approved a constitutional amendment to implement the state lottery. This amendment was promoted to the people of Idaho on the premise that the dividends from the lottery would go to the Idaho Public School Building Account and the Permanent Building Fund to maintain our school facilities and bring buildings up to code.
However, in 2009, our legislators decided the lottery dividends would be merged with the general fund. The statute change only sets aside a portion of lottery funds above the fiscal year 2008 funding level of $34 million for the Bond Levy Equalization Fund. So dear voters, only a portion of the lottery funds are being used for the original purpose of school facilities, while the State has raided the surplus. With the short fall, property owners are once again on the hook for levies to appropriately fund school facilities. We had a solution in place, but legislators pulled a bait and switch with the funds. How soon we forget!
Before the next legislative session, and before the next levy, I urge voters to lobby their legislators to restore the lottery funds for school facilities. In addition, they should be required to return the funds they’ve raided since 2009, so property owners are not once again on the hook.
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