Voucher legislation introduced a week and a half ago continues to await a committee hearing due to a lack of needed support.
The legislation, which offers tax credits to pay for private school tuition, was unveiled for Idahoans with great fanfare just before the start of the 2024 legislative session. Yet, the bill, introduced in the House Revenue and Taxation Committee on Jan. 30, languishes on the committee’s reading calendars because of its co-sponsors’ inability to convince enough members to endorse it.
Like all vouchers, Idaho Education Association members oppose House Bill 447, sponsored by Reps. Wendy Horman (R-Idaho Falls) and Jason Monks (R-Meridian) and Sens. Scott Grow (R-Eagle) and Doug Ricks (R-Rexburg). IEA members have sent nearly 2,000 emails to members of the committee urging them to vote against the bill if it comes up for a vote at all.
“The action of IEA members and their allies has been a huge influence on the committee so far,” said Matt Compton, IEA’s associate executive director. “It’s another great example of how their collective influence can impact policymaking in the moment. We must continue to support those committee members who are resisting a great deal of pressure to get behind this newest voucher scheme.”
So far, this tax credit voucher is the only voucher legislation to emerge during the current legislative session — a huge difference from the seven voucher bills defeated during the 2023 legislative session.
IEA members have long opposed vouchers — or siphoning public tax dollars away from public schools to pay for private or parochial school tuition — in any form. IEA’s opposition to vouchers is one of the key reasons Idaho remains one of the few states dominated politically by conservatives without voucher programs of some type. That has made it a target for national voucher proponents eager to bring these taxpayer-funded government subsidies for private schools and private school vendors to as many states as possible.
“Voucher proponents are tireless in their effort to bring these schemes to Idaho and to label them anything but what they are,” said Chris Parri, IEA political director. “No matter what their nature or how you label them — school choice, education savings accounts, or tax credits — spending public tax dollars on private school tuition, especially without fully funding public schools first, is a voucher.”
And, according to IEA’s October voter poll, a majority of likely Idaho voters oppose directing public tax dollars to private K-12 schools, while 80% believe schools benefiting from vouchers, taxpayer-funded education savings account vouchers or tuition tax credit vouchers, if ever enacted in Idaho, should meet the same accountability and transparency standards as public schools.
“House Bill 447 is exactly the kind of thing Idaho’s voters do not want,” Compton said. “They want accountability from elected officials on how their tax dollars are spent on education. This bill does not provide that.”