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Reclaim Idaho volunteers celebrate

September 16, 2022

By Clarice M McKenney

Luke Mayville addresses about 50 North Idaho volunteers Thursday night at
Matchwood Brewing in Sandpoint and gives special thanks to
Bonner County Reclaim Idaho leaders, including campaign managers
Ashley Prince, Abby Sanford and Rebecca Holland.
Luke Mayville, a founder of Reclaim Idaho, told the gathering of 50 volunteers in Sandpoint Thursday why the grass roots group withdrew Proposition 1 from the November ballot.

“We’re here to celebrate because we forced the legislature to support education by $410 million per year,” Mayville told the crowd. “As the Idaho Statesman wrote, ‘Credit for this goes above all to Reclaim Idaho, who got the Quality Education Act on the ballot, producing enough political pressure to break through the logjam that has long failed Idaho's children.'"

Mayville explained that after all of their hard work getting valid signatures to qualify the Idaho Quality Education Initiative for the ballot, some may see withdrawing the initiative as a loss.

“Instead of a loss, we forced the legislature to do something they never would have done, which is (Idaho’s) biggest investment in education in decades,” he said. “Our work is not done, though. Immediately, we must hold the governor and legislature accountable for that $410 million per year and find many different ways to demand that it go to the most urgent needs.”

One of those, he said, is better pay for teachers.

"It’s a crisis when we have trouble getting and keeping quality teachers and support staff,” Mayville said.

During a separate interview, Mayville explained that if the initiative had passed, the legislation would go into effect a couple of days later.

“The legislation was written to immediately repeal our citizens’ initiative in order to eliminate tax increases,” he said.

Reclaim Idaho’s initiative would have resulted in slight tax increases on the wealthiest and corporations to fund over $300 million a year for schools.

Mayville told the group that they were really celebrating three big achievements.
“The first was Medicaid Expansion, which not only provided healthcare for hundreds of thousands of poor Idahoans but also created thousands of jobs in a ripple effect over our economy and brought over a billion federal dollars into Idaho,” he said. “The second achievement was that we won a lawsuit in the Idaho Supreme Court that established the initiative process as a fundamental (citizen) right. The legislature had tried to repeal the initiative and failed, so then they tried to kill the initiative process, which is why we filed the lawsuit—and won. In the process, a number of people filed supportive statements with the court and it was impressed by those.”

He told the group that the recent decision by the legislature was the third achievement of the group.

“You won $410 million for public schools.”

Mayville acknowledged, though, that it was “not a perfect victory. Their law made the tax less fair (than it would have been under the initiative) but the tax cut their law permitted is only $160 million and the education support is $410 million.”

Four years ago, before the group started the first initiative, “only Democrats would have supported help for the schools," Mayville said. "But the $410 million sailed through both houses with huge majorities. Now, ours seemed like a reasonable compromise because they were terrified of moderate tax increases.”

After his speech Thursday, Mayville recounted how another Reclaim Idaho leader, Emily Strizich, “got hooked” on the grass roots group’s first effort when local volunteers knocked on doors in Bonners Ferry.

“In the documentary that tracked the group’s efforts, Emily was moved,” he said, "by a local woman on Bonners Ferry’s South Hill who was facing the loss of her home because she could not afford the health insurance premiums under the Affordable Healthcare law."

Questions or Comments? Send us an email!

Mike Weland, Publisher

6931 Main St.
P.O. Box 1625
Bonners Ferry, ID 83805
(208) 295-1016

A 9B Media LLC publication
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