Idaho’s House of Representatives will very soon debate a proposal from Gov. Brad Little that would create a scholarship program for high school students. Students would be eligible for up to $8,500 “to be redeemed at the workforce training provider, career technical program, community college, or college of their choice,” according to the bill’s statement of purpose. “Preference will be given to students pursuing in-demand careers based on job market data.”
The program would cost taxpayers $102 million in its first year. The Idaho Statesman voiced its support for the program, and the Idaho Association of Commerce and Industry retweeted the newspaper’s endorsement of it.
Supporters of this idea say that this would help students move more seamlessly into the college or career of their choice, saving them money along the way. Little himself said, during his State of the State speech, that the scholarship “will be the single largest investment in career technical and workforce education in state history,”
Opponents, including the Idaho Freedom Foundation, said the plan is socialist and represents a massive wealth redistribution program. The IFF also said it’s much less a “scholarship” program as it is a cleverly-disguised corporate welfare program, forcing taxpayers to foot the bill for training that corporations should pay for on their own. (IFF Bill Rating)
House Bill 19 was introduced to create this new program, and it was sent to the House Education Committee, which it is not expected to advance. A new version of the bill, House Bill 24, is the version that the governor’s office is trying to advance. It makes some subtle changes from the original proposal. House Bill 24 is expected to be heard in the House Commerce and Human Resources Committee in the near future.
What do you think? Now’s a good time to let your legislators know.