As voters in Idaho, which would we rather have? 1. Saving 0.2 percent out of 7.4 percent, or a 2.7 percent drop in taxes, which is hardly meaningful? 2. Or putting the $55 million in reduced taxes into educating our kids better, perhaps pulling Idaho out of the bottom 10 percent of states in virtually every measure of scholastic performance?
Reasons for educating our kids better:
1. Better education means increased incomes, increased spending, increased taxes paid.
2. Low-tech business activity is moving to areas and countries that have low wages, whereas high-tech (STEM) jobs are proliferating, and those companies are going to Silicon Valley, Boston and Seattle, where there are many college graduates.
3. What if Micron, HP, Clearwater, Whitecloud Analytics, Balihoo and all the spinoffs of high-tech companies in Idaho decided they could not find enough educated employees here, and therefore moved back to Silicon Valley, Boston, Seattle or ...?
4. It is evident that most Idaho voters value education, or why would a huge majority of school districts around the state have passed special levies to improve local schools? And our Legislature made it tougher for school districts to do this by requiring a two-thirds majority vote.
5. Look at the success of College of Western Idaho. When it opened five or six years ago, Bert Glandon, the president, predicted about 2,500 students within five years. It is now over 12,000 students. Many of those CWI students did not get well-educated in elementary or high school, and most returned to CWI when 25 to 35 years old to learn what they failed to learn in Idaho schools.
6. How can we hire and keep good teachers when Idaho has historically low teacher salaries?
Idaho should be getting more of the large companies moving out of West Coast states because of the number and complexity of business regulations, but aren’t because of low educational performance and some of the lowest wages paid in the U.S. Many do not move here because of a poorly educated workforce.
Charles Bonner spent 25 years in the food business in California, then started a merger/acquisition and venture capital company and continued that business when moving to Idaho 15 years ago.