Following SCOTUS ruling, Reclaim Idaho officially ends Invest in Idaho initiative

By Reader Staff

Reclaim Idaho has since June been locked in a high-stakes legal battle with Idaho Gov. Brad Little and Secretary of State Lawerence Denney over whether the grassroots organization can collect signatures online for its Invest in Idaho ballot initiative.

While for a time it looked like Reclaim Idaho would prevail, following a decision in favor of e-signature gathering by U.S. District Judge B. Lynn Winmill in July, the U.S. Supreme Court sided with Little and Denney in early August — granting the state its requested stay on the gathering of signatures online.

In a statement Aug. 13, Reclaim Idaho co-founder Luke Mayville officially announced the organization would suspend its effort, ending the chance that the Invest in Idaho education funding initiative would appear on the November ballot.

“It is disheartening to see the governor fight tooth-and-nail to defeat an initiative for K-12 funding,” Mayville stated. “This is an initiative that promised to save Idaho from deep cuts to the K-12 budget, and it’s an initiative that the vast majority of Idahoans support.” 

The initiative relied on a two-pronged approach to increasing K-12 education funding by at least $170 million annually: first, by restoring the corporate tax rate to 8%, where it sat from 1987-2000; and, second, calling for a 3% tax increase on personal income over $250,000 per year for an individual and $500,000 per year for a married couple. According to Reclaim Idaho, the proposal would have affected fewer than 5% of Idahoans.

A poll conducted by Change Research on behalf of Reclaim Idaho in August 2019 showed the initiative was popular among Idahoans. Asked: “In general, if there was a question on the ballot to increase funding for public K-12 education in Idaho paid for by a tax increase on corporations and those making over $250,000, how would you vote?,” 62% of respondents said “yes” while 36% said “no.” 

The effort had picked up additional support in recent months, after Little announced $99 million in cuts to K-12 amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and resulting economic downturn.

A full hearing for Reclaim Idaho’s case had been scheduled in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in mid-August, yet, “In an extraordinary act, the Supreme Court intervened before the Ninth Circuit had a chance to consider Reclaim’s case,” the organization stated in a news release. 

Justice Sonia Sotomayor criticized the court’s haste in issuing a ruling, saying it undermined the principle that the “highest court will act only after considered deliberation.”

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