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Will Brad Little’s “Launch Scholarship” Make it Across the Finish Line?

By • March 10, 2023

Governor Brad Little’s request to the Legislature in his January State of the State address for an “Idaho Launch Scholarship” has had a rough road through the legislative process. The program is currently awaiting amendments and now has a trailer bill to get the idea through both chambers and to the Governor’s desk to be signed.

It began as House Bill 24, sponsored by Republican Majority Leader Representative Megan Blanksma (R-District 8).


House Bill 24 barely passed the House of Representatives with a 36 to 34 vote on February 6. After that there was disagreement about which Senate committee would be appropriate for the bill to be routed to. Some argued for Senate Education Committee, while others pushed for Senate Commerce and Human Resources. It was eventually directed by Senate leadership to Commerce and Human Resources. The bill waited to have a public hearing there until March 7.

The discussion in committee was very divided. Proponents outlined the idea as a way to help Idaho companies find skilled workers who have been trained in “high demand” jobs because the money could be used by high school graduates to enroll in workforce training programs, technical training, community college, or traditional college in Idaho. The goal is for young Idahoans to use the $8500 to “launch” them into jobs which need skilled workers. Kuna Superintendent Wendy Johnson told the committee,

“Launch is an investment in our future workforce and an investment in Idaho.”

Opponents of the legislation said this type of program is socialistic in that it uses taxpayer money to create handouts that funnel the money to education deemed “in demand” by the state labor department, a type of income redistribution and interference in the free market.

Former Representative and BYU-Idaho Economics Professor Ron Nate not only testified against the bill based on its merits, but also told the committee the proposed program is “a payoff for friends of the governor.”

(55) Ron Nate testifies against HB24 in Senate Commerce – YouTube

Ultimately the divided Senate Commerce Committee voted 7 to 2 to send House Bill 24 to the amending order to be edited and reworked in order to address some of the criticism, including the $102 million price tag.

On Wednesday, a trailer bill was printed in the same Senate Commerce and Human Resources Committee as Senate Bill 1151. The statement of purpose prepared by bill sponsor Senator Jim Guthrie (R-District 28) reads:

“This is a trailer bill to House Bill 24 to impose additional sideboards on the Idaho Launch program. It makes three primary changes: 1) It enhances legislative oversight of the Idaho Launch program to enhance program accountability; 2) It ensures greater “skin in the game” from Launch participants by capping the maximum state match; and 3) It further limits the use of Launch funds to just tuition and fees.”


At this point both bills are still active and Senators could decide to work on keeping each one moving through the process, or find a way to combine them. Typically a trailer bill replaces an original bill that was sent to the amending order. With just a couple weeks left in the planned legislative session schedule, the bill sponsors will have to work quickly to keep this idea moving forward.


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Tags: Brad Little, College Tuition, Education, Education Funding, Idaho Launch, Idaho Senate, Jim Guthrie, Launch Program, Launch Scholarship, Megan Blanksma, Ron Nate, Senate Commerce and Human Resources, Workforce Development

5 thoughts on “Will Brad Little’s “Launch Scholarship” Make it Across the Finish Line?

  1. Let’s hope this fool’s communist plan to rob the poor, rob the working class, stupidity never sees the light of day.

  2. Could the payoffs for the education lobby be more obvious. No to the give away of money to those who do not think or plan for them selves and are looking for we the people to pay for their lack of planning. No to the education establishment that thinks degrees in under water basket weaving have value and the government should pay for that student.

  3. Child trafficking will result out of this “Idaho Launch Scholarship” program. Why not, free money to corporations. Recipients don’t have to follow through with training. What the families come in with ten, 18year olds for the senior year.

    We saw the same in California. Handouts to corporations, agencies and non-profits brought in all types of organized crimes.

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