Following debate, members of the Idaho House of Representatives approved HB 507, co-sponsored by Rep. John VanderWoude (R-Nampa) and Sen. Bob Nonini (R-Post Falls). The bill would provide a 50 percent credit on state income taxes to individuals and corporations that make donations to nonprofit scholarship granting organizations (SGOs) to provide scholarships to K-12 students to attend private or religious schools.
According to the bill sponsor, the legislation would lessen the financial burden on public education by as much as $10 million each year.
IEA opposes the measure. At its core, HB 507 is a voucher program that takes money away from the state to fund private schools. For public schools, there is no savings. Fixed costs remain; the bus will still need to run, the classroom will still need to be heated, and the students still need a teacher.
And, the bill may very well violate Article 9, Section 5 of the Idaho State Constitution which states, in part, “Neither the legislature nor any county, city, town, township, school district, or other public corporation, shall ever make any appropriations, or pay from any public fund or moneys whatever, anything in the aid of any church or sectarian or religious society, or for any sectarian or religious purpose, or to help support sustain any school….”
The bill now moves to the germane Senate committee for consideration.