Reports of Exaggerated Reclaim Idaho K-12 Initiative Price

The Reclaim Idaho the Education Funding Initiative may not impose a $570 million a year tax on all Idahoans, Betsy Russell of the Idaho Press reported Sunday.

It’s the latest installment in an ongoing debate over the Reclaim Idaho initiative — and claims the measure would inadvertently repeal income tax cuts passed by the 2022 Legislature.

“There are safeguards that are in place,” Mike Nugent, who retired in 2018 after working as state editor for 26 years, told Russell. “To me, it’s a storm in a teapot.”

Nugent drafted the Reclaim Idaho Quality Education Act, which will appear in the Nov. 6 ballot.

The initiative proposes income tax increases of $323 million per year – affecting corporations, individual taxpayers earning over $250,000 per year and families earning over $500,000 per year. This money would go into a fund to pay for K-12 programs.

But the initiative’s wording also lists old state income tax rates, because the initiative was drafted before the 2022 legislature passed another round of tax cuts. The Idaho Freedom Foundation, a conservative lobby group opposed to the initiative, said the wording would reverse $250 million in cuts, raising the price to more than $570 million a year.

In an email last month, Deputy Attorney General Brian Kane appeared to come to the same conclusion. (Click here for our coverage.)

But in an email to Russell on Thursday, Kane said he was only trying to answer a question analyzing “the likely effect of the initiative if passed.” He said he was not commenting on how the initiative was drafted.

And Kane addressed another issue on the initiative: an error in language about inflation indexing, which would lower state income tax brackets.

Kane blamed the mistake on an inadvertent typo. “The error is ours,” he told Russell.

About Kevin Richert

A senior journalist and blogger, Kevin Richert specializes in education policy and education policy. He has over 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 [email protected]

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