A bill introduced in the House Education Committee today would extend the rights of administrators and teachers to come out of retirement without sacrificing benefits earned through the Public Employee Retirement System of Idaho.
The panel agreed to print the measure sponsored by Rep. Scott Bedke (R-Oakley). It would remove the sunset clause on a law passed five years ago which allows retired educators to be rehired if they are at least 62 years of age; have met the rule of 90 (age plus years of service); and have not taken early retirement benefits from PERSI. These educators would be rehired as at-will employees and typically at a reduced rate. An employee’s district would pay into PERSI, but the employee would not. The bill intends to help smaller districts that struggle to find the administrators and educators they need, while allowing educators to supplement their retirement income, do something they love, and maintain the security of their PERSI benefits.
Also in House Ed today, the committee heard and agreed to print two resolutions that could overrule last week’s decision by the Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee to give all public employees except teachers an ongoing 2 percent raise. Rep. Steve Hartgen (R-Twin Falls) introduced one measure that would give state employees no raise at all for the fifth straight year and another to make the proposed 2 percent raises merit based.
As Betsy Russell reported at Eye on Boise, “From at least 1990 until 2008, Idaho held a joint meeting most years early in the legislative session of what was often called the CEC Committee, with CEC standing for Change in Employee Compensation … that joint CEC committee hasn't been convened since 2008, and legislative leaders opted not to convene it this year. State employee raises, or CEC, haven't been funded at all for the past four years.”
Russell’s blog also quoted JFAC Co-Chair Sen. Dean Cameron (R-Rupert) as saying, “Obviously it's incumbent upon JFAC to set the budgets, and those decisions generally involve our personnel. It was my understanding that House and Senate leadership had agreed JFAC would make the determination on CEC this year. So if something else has changed, they can introduce anything that they like. Whether it makes it through the process is another question.”
The House Education Committee also passed H534, which amends S1110 (last year’s pay-for-performance bill) to allow teachers with less than three years of experience to qualify for leadership bonuses. The bill, sponsored by Rep. Mack Shirley (R-Rexburg) now goes to the full House.
In other Statehouse news, the Senate passed a texting-while-driving ban that now heads to the House, where it died in the final days of the 2010 session. The clock is ticking on Occupy Boise, since Gov. Butch Otter signed H404, which prohibits camping on state property. Occupy Boise has been staging a peaceful protest adjacent to the Capitol since last fall. Participants now have until 5 p.m. Monday, February 27, to leave.
Looking ahead to Wednesday, House Education will have its public hearing on several charter school bills including H481, which lifts the current cap of six new charter schools per year and no more than one new one in any district. The committee meets at 8:30 in Room EW41. H517, the bill to conform Idaho tax law to federal law and allow a teacher tax deduction for out-of-pocket supplies, may reach its final hearing in the full House on Wednesday.