The Idaho Legislature appears on track toward adjournment later this week, and no fewer than five education-related bills were considered today.

The day began with a brand-new bill, H698. It’s the 16th bill that the Legislature has considered this year in an attempt to clean up the mess of education policy that it made last year. As the Associated Press reported, “Coeur d'Alene Rep. Bob Nonini introduced the bill Tuesday, which is similar to a unanimously passed Senate measure that reverses over five years about $35 million in teacher pay slashed in last year's ‘Students Come First’ education reforms. But Nonini's plan also prioritizes last year's reform programs, which include a merit pay program and new laptops, for any new funding.” Read more here. The bill, printed today, will be considered at 8 a.m. Wednesday in Room EW41.
In other action:

The House passed S1410, the Fiscal Year 2013 public school funding bill. With a general fund price tag of $1,279,818,600, it represents a 4.6 percent increase from FY2012, but the overall budget of $1,566,813,100 showed an increase of just 0.4 percent over the current year. What’s more, Idaho’s public schools will still be operating with $139 million less in the general fund than the state invested in FY2009. Read more about the bill.

Lawmakers fell short on a parliamentary maneuver to revive S1358, the anti-bullying bill that passed the Senate two weeks ago but did not get a hearing in the House Education Committee. Although 20 other lawmakers joined Rep. Brian Cronin (D-Boise) in the motion to bring the bill out of committee, 48 voted no and the bill is dead for another year.

H670, which would thwart the Idaho Constitution’s prohibitions against state support for private schools, was considered on the House amending order today and passed back to the second reading calendar. This bill would allow tax credits to individuals to fund a child’s attendance at a private or religious school. Corporations would also be eligible for tax breaks for donations to private schools.

The House passed H564, the amended bill from Rep. JoAn Wood (R-Rigby) that makes changes to the year-old legislation dealing with employee records and Professional Standards Commission investigations. The IEA debated against earlier versions of this bill, but last week, a compromise was struck with the sponsors to clarify that a former employee will be provided any information from other investigative files (beyond their personnel file). The IEA also won clarifying language to guarantee that newly hired employees will receive full salary and benefits while awaiting a review of their personnel files.

The Senate didn’t work nearly as hard today, since it is awaiting a compromise on teacher pay and tax cuts. H672, the bill allowing school districts to use facility maintenance money for other non-personnel needs for a fourth year, is on its calendar for final consideration tomorrow.

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