Idaho’s supplemental levy bill has hit an all-time record this year.
Property taxpayers will shell out $188.8 million in voter-approved supplemental levies in 2016-17 — up from $186.6 million in 2015-16.
The previous high-water mark was $188.1 million in 2013-14, as Idaho schools were digging out from the aftereffects of the Great Recession.
But the rising supplemental levy bill comes after Gov. Butch Otter and the Legislature approved 7.4 percent funding increases for K-12 for the past two successive years.
Supplemental levies are a flashpoint in the ongoing debate over Idaho education funding. Many school leaders have said the levies are no longer supplemental at all — but instead provided essential backfill, particularly during the global downturn. But many of these same administrators say the levies are an unstable funding source, since they run for only one or two years, and require majority support at the polls.
In most cases, the 2016-17 levies aren’t new at all. They are renewals of voter-approved levies that were first passed during the recession, or earlier.