Unlike Wednesday when House committees schedules were suspended to provide ample time for House members to debate whether to back a plan pushed by Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter to use about $30 million in federal grants to build Idaho’s own insurance exchange, Thursday was a day packed with committee and House meetings.
The House Education Committee approved a bill that will continue, for one more year, to provide local school districts with flexibility in spending their “Use It or Lose It” funds.
Idaho law requires that if a district has enough students to hire 100 teachers and choose to hire fewer teachers, they will lose access to the funds set aside for that purpose. Over the past few years, the legislature has allowed districts some flexibility from this requirement and allowed them to expend a certain portion of the funds to cover other district expenses.
HB 275, sponsored by the Idaho Association of School Administrators, will continue for one more year, to allow school districts to utilize 9.5% of their “Use It or Lose It” funds to cover other district expenses.
The IEA supports the legislation with the understanding that this is a temporary fix and that next year the legislature must reduce or eliminate this flexibility.
The House of Representatives passed three education-related bills today, all of which the IEA opposes:
- HB 259 will allow a school district to stop paying the salary and benefits of any employee if a court order prevents the employee from carrying out his or her contractual duties.
- HB 260 will require all negotiations to be completed by June 10 of each year. If bargaining has not concluded, the district will be required to impose its last, best offer.
- SB 1089, which repeals Idaho’s teacher early retirement incentive program (ERIP), passed the House on a 54-15 vote.
Both House Bills now move to the Senate Education Committee for further vetting; the Senate bill now heads to the governor’s desk.
ACTION: Contact the Governor Otter (http://gov.idaho.gov/ourgov/contact.html) and urge him to VETO SB 1089.
Please take a moment to send a note of thanks to representatives who voted NO on HB 259 (http://www.legislature.idaho.gov/legislation/2013/H0259.htma), HB 260 (http://www.legislature.idaho.gov/legislation/2013/H0260.htm), and SB 1089 (http://www.legislature.idaho.gov/legislation/2013/S1089.htm).
…And an Similarly Busy Day in the Senate Education Committee
Among the handful of bills they discussed today, members of the Senate Education Committee voted unanimously to send SB 1146 (http://www.legislature.idaho.gov/legislation/2013/S1146.htm) to the floor with a “do pass” recommendation.
SB 1146 is the IEA-sponsored legislation that would lower the bar for districts to declare a financial emergency and reopen the Master Contract to adjust salaries and benefits, if their funding is reduced in future years due to state cuts or failed supplemental levies.
The IEA introduced this legislation as an alternative to SB 1148, the ISBA-sponsored bill that would allow school districts to unilaterally reduce or increase contract days or the salary of employees for any reason or no reason whatsoever.
Senate Education Chair John Goedde (R-CDA) announced today that his committee will vote on both SB 1147, the bill that makes Master Contracts null and void each year and SB 1148, on Monday.
Governor’s Task Force Meets Tomorrow
Members of the Governor’s Task Force on education reform is set to meet on Friday to finalize recommendations. At their previous meeting, task force members were informed that the recommendations coming from the various subcommittees of the group would be shared with the public at meetings across the state throughout the spring and summer. The results of these public input sessions are expected to be reviewed by the task force in the late summer or early autumn and finalized as recommendations to the governor and lawmakers prior to the 2014 legislative session.
IEA is represented on the task force by IEA President Penni Cyr, Brian Smith (Sandpoint), Cindy Wilson (Meridian) and Teresa Jackman (Pocatello).