Time to Lower the Bond Threshold

House Minority Leader Rep. Mat Erpelding introduced a bill that would lower the threshold for local bond passage from 66.66% to 60%. Right now, local bonds or levies must pass with 66.66% of the vote which is way beyond a normal majority.

Local school districts across the state shouldn’t be hamstrung because the legislature refuses to adequately fund public education. Idaho has enough money to fund our schools without raising taxes, even at the local level. But the Majority continues to shift the tax burden to local property owners by cutting taxes for the wealthy. Middle class families will see no tax “relief” because local school districts will be forced to pass supplemental levies or bonds to fix their school’s roof. We need to make responsible investments in our schools so our children can thrive and businesses can grow.

Proposal to Lower Idaho’s Super-Majority Bond Threshold Headed for Statehouse Hearing

Idaho House Minority Leader Mat Erpelding (D-Boise) introduced a measure Wednesday afternoon that should have school districts and elected officials across the state buzzing in the coming weeks.

If approved, the measure would lower the threshold for local bond passage from 66.66 percent to 60 percent.

“It’s still a sizable majority,” said Erpelding, who introduced the measure to the House Local Government Committee. “Currently, Idaho is among the strictest—if not the strictest—state in the nation for passing bonds.”

Erpelding referred to a number of rural school bond initiatives that went down to defeat by the slimmest of margins.

“In 2015, a Bonneville County bond failed because it had received 65.2 percent of the vote. When they tried a second time, it received 66.19 percent, failing again,” said Erpelding. “Other areas of the state have also had difficulty in getting bonds passed—particularly for schools.”

One of the highest-profile bond votes in the Treasure Valley was the $180 million bond proposed in November 2016 by the College of Western Idaho. Ada and Canyon county voters rejected the measure, which only received 57.2 percent of the vote. Next month, the Boise School District will put a $172.5 million bond in front of voters

Ultimately, the committee voted to move the proposal to a full public hearing, with Reps. Vito Barbieri (R-Dalton Gardens), Mike Kingsley (R-Lewiston) and Lynn Luker (R-Boise) voting “no.”

Erpelding said it will be an uphill fight to approve the bill, which would require a change to the Idaho Constitution.

“As you know, this will take a two-thirds majority in both the House and Senate,” he said.

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