As a general rule, we elect people to make the hard decisions based on their past experience, current efforts, thoughtful ideas and campaign promises.
Sometimes that theory fails to produce the positive results necessary for government to function properly. It’s a large rut causing the Legislature to bog down when conducting the people’s business.
Fortunately, frustrated Idaho residents have a constitutional recourse they are not afraid to use. The initiative process was put in place more than 100 years ago and has been used sparingly since. However, unless the Legislature becomes more responsive to human constituents instead of the money from corporate entities and lobbyists, the initiative will become a familiar tool for voters who are dissatisfied.
In 2018, Reclaim Idaho, a grassroots organization, successfully placed the Medicare expansion initiative on the ballot. This was a direct result of lawmakers’ long-time refusal to extend proper health care to about 91,000 Idahoans. The measure was enacted by 61 percent of the voters.
The process works.
Flush with success, Reclaim Idaho has set its sights on another long-smoldering issue lawmakers have failed, or neglected, to adequately address: public education funding.
The group says its latest initiative, according to a story in the Daily News, would generate $170-$200 million by raising taxes on corporations and the wealthy. “The money would be used for a variety of educational purposes, including higher teacher salaries, smaller class sizes, expanded classroom offerings and more career technical education.”
“The ‘Invest in Idaho’ initiative is designed to invest in our teachers, our children and Idaho’s future,” Reclaim Idaho Executive Director Rebecca Schroeder said in a news release. “Our initiative will bring investments back to Idaho from out-of-state corporations who benefited from the 2017 (federal) tax giveaway. It also calls on Idaho’s richest people to invest in the skilled workforce Idaho has lacked for so many years.”
There will be hurdles ahead for the initiative if it is accepted by the Idaho Secretary of State’s Office. More than 55,000 valid petition signatures will be needed to qualify for the 2020 ballot from across the state.
At its early stages, we think the initiative has some good points and will solve some funding problems.
If the measure makes it to the ballot, the voters will decide if it has merit. If passed, we expect implementation will be stymied by lawmakers.
It is obvious the Legislature doesn’t care for the initiative process and has on several occasions tried to make the process more difficult. During the latest effort, lawmakers sought changes because they didn’t want Idaho to become like California, a state they consider to be overrun by multiple initiatives each year.
That “fear” could become reality for lawmakers if they continue to abdicate their responsibility to Idahoans. Passing an initiative is not an easy process but a necessary one when residents are forced to do the Legislature’s job for it.