Launch applications: How they stack up by legislative district

Over the past few days, House Speaker Mike Moyle has again voiced his opposition to Idaho Launch, which will provide up to $8,000 in grants for high school graduates pursuing college or job training.

“Government handouts generally don’t work too well, and this is a big government handout,” Moyle told reporters last week.

And at the same time, Democratic legislative leaders Melissa Wintrow and Lauren Necochea have restated their support of Launch, and urged skeptical lawmakers to come around. “Every new idea needs a boost,” said Wintrow, of Boise, the Senate’s minority leader. “It needs some investment.”

You might assume that high school seniors in Moyle’s suburban district have little interest in the Launch grants — while the program is a big hit in the North End district represented by Nechochea and Wintrow. But it’s actually the opposite.

Moyle’s District 10 has the second-highest number of Launch applicants, according to data supplied Tuesday by Gov. Brad Little’s office. District 19, represented by Wintrow and Necochea, falls in the bottom five for Launch applicants.

Little’s office compiled the breakdown of applicants by legislative district — and emailed the numbers to lawmakers Monday, as the governor made his pitch to put another $75 million into the Launch program. Idaho Education News requested and received the breakdown Tuesday.

The breakdown includes 11,371 Launch applications, completed and submitted by Dec. 28. More than 12,500 seniors have at least started a Launch application, exceeding Little’s initial forecasts.

Based on the district-by-district numbers, Launch seems to be most popular, by and large, in rural areas of East Idaho and the Magic Valley. Launch applications appear to be lagging in urban districts, including three Boise legislative districts. (Legislative districts are redrawn every decade, so they include roughly the same population.)

Here are the top five and bottom five legislative districts, based on Launch applications. And here’s how the district’s lawmakers voted on the two bills to create Launch: the original bill and the followup bill designed to rein in the program.

An important caveat: The lawmakers cast their Launch votes last year — months before students in their districts could begin applying for the grants. 

The top five districts

District 24 (Camas and Gooding counties; portions of Twin Falls County): 591 applicants. Sen. Glenneda Zuiderfeld, R-Twin Falls (opposed); Rep. Chenele Dixon, R-Kimberly (supported); Rep. Steven Miller, R-Fairfield (opposed first Launch bill, supported second Launch bill).

District 10 (portions of Ada and Canyon counties): 491 applicants. Sen. Tammy Nichols, R-Middleton (opposed); Rep. Mike Moyle, R-Star (opposed first Launch bill, supported second Launch bill); Rep. Bruce Skaug, R-Nampa (opposed).

District 31 (Clark, Fremont, Jefferson and Lemhi counties): 483 applicants. Sen. Van Burtenshaw, R-Terreton (supported); Rep. Jerald Raymond, R-Menan (supported); Rep. Rod Furniss, R-Rigby (supported).

District 35 (Bear Lake, Caribou and Teton counties; portions of Bannock and Bonneville counties): 474 applicants. Sen. Mark Harris, R-Soda Springs (supported); Rep Kevin Andrus, R-Lava Hot Springs (opposed first Launch bill, supported second Launch bill); Rep. Josh Wheeler, R-Ammon (supported).

District 28 (Franklin and Power counties; portions of Bannock County): 464 applicants. Sen. Jim Guthrie, R-McCammon (supported); Rep. Rick Cheatum, R-Pocatello (supported); Rep. Dan Garner, R-Clifton (supported).

The bottom five districts

District 19 (portions of Boise): 203 applicants. Sen. Melissa Wintrow, D-Boise (supported); Rep. Lauren Necochea, D-Boise (supported); Rep. Chris Mathias, D-Boise (supported).

District 16 (portions of Boise and Garden City): 195 applicants. Sen. Ali Rabe, D-Boise (supported); Rep. Soñia Galaviz, D-Boise (supported); Rep. Colin Nash, D-Boise (supported).

District 17 (portions of Boise): 195 applicants. Sen. Carrie Semmelroth, D-Boise (supported); Rep. John Gannon, D-Boise (supported); Rep. Sue Chew, D-Boise (supported).

District 33 (portions of Bonneville County): 174 applicants. Sen. Dave Lent, R-Idaho Falls (supported); Rep. Barbara Ehardt, R-Idaho Falls (opposed first Launch bill, supported second Launch bill); Rep. Marco Erickson, R-Idaho Falls (supported).

District 4 (portions of Kootenai County): 145 applicants. Sen. Ben Toews, R-Coeur d’Alene (opposed); Rep. Joe Alfieri, R-Coeur d’Alene (opposed); Rep. Elaine Price, R-Coeur d’Alene (opposed).


Kevin Richert

Kevin Richert

Senior reporter and blogger Kevin Richert specializes in education politics and education policy. He has more than 30 years of experience in Idaho journalism. He is a frequent guest on "Idaho Reports" on Idaho Public Television and "Idaho Matters" on Boise State Public Radio. Follow Kevin on Twitter: @KevinRichert. He can be reached at [email protected]

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