Should Idaho Dedicate Tax Revenues for Education?

May 18, 2005

The Idaho Education Association will apparently push an education funding ballot measure in 2006. The measure will reportedly ask voters to dedicate an arbitrary percentage of state revenues to education funding. Idaho’s sales tax, which is set to return to 5 percent this summer after a temporary increase to 6 percent, is a likely target.

Before voting ‘yes’ on a proposal like this, Idaho voters should take a hard look at Colorado’s Amendment 23. Approved by Colorado voters in 2000, Amendment 23 requires Colorado to increase education spending by population plus one percent every year and sets aside 7.2 percent of personal income tax revenues to fund education.

The impact on Colorado’s budget has been severe. When Colorado revenues plunged during the recent recession, Amendment 23 required the state to keep increasing spending for education. This squeezed the rest of the budget, leading to less money for higher education, transportation, health and public safety. Such a squeeze would put more pressure on lawmakers to raise taxes in Idaho to continue funding all needed state services.

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