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Ballot initiative would raise taxes on wealthy, corporations

Reclaim Idaho wants to raise taxes by 3% on individuals making more than $250,000 or married couples making more than $500,000.

BOISE, Idaho — A group that got Medicaid expansion on the Idaho ballot last year says it has started another initiative to raise money for public schools by increasing taxes on corporations and the wealthy.

Reclaim Idaho on Wednesday announced the initiative proposal to raise taxes by 3% on individuals making more than $250,000 or married couples making more than $500,000.

The plan would also raise corporate tax rates from 7.4% to 8%, the same as from 1987 to 2000.

Reclaim Idaho says that will raise $170 million for K-12 public schools while reducing the need for school levies through property tax overrides.

"The politicians in Boise give away our tax dollars to out-of-state interests while Idaho teachers are forced to pay for their own supplies," said Reclaim Idaho Executive Director Rebecca Schroeder in a statement. "Idaho's children find themselves at a competitive disadvantage, and property taxpayers in rural districts shoulder an unfair tax burden."

The group submitted the initiative petition to the secretary of state's office last week. The attorney general's office will check the initiative to make sure it passes constitutional muster.

After that, more than 55,000 registered voters will have to sign a petition for the initiative to make the November 2020 ballot.

Reclaim Idaho succeeded in getting Medicaid expansion on the ballot last year and it passed with 61% of the vote. It's not clear how a ballot initiative to raise taxes might do if it makes the Idaho ballot.

"I do think that it is challenging to get tax increases passed," said Boise State University political scientist Jaclyn Kettler. "They're going to have to do a lot of messaging, that this isn't going to affect most people (in their tax bills)."

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