The budgeting process continues at the Idaho Legislature, and Senate Education Chair John Goedde (R-Coeur d’Alene) and House Education Chair Bob Nonini (R-Coeur d’Alene) will each give their presentations to the Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee at 8:15 a.m. Friday. JFAC is set to start its budget-setting process on Monday and conclude it by March 9.
Goedde led his committee through listing budget priorities today. Among those making the list: pay for performance, funding student growth, backfilling the $19.4 million transfer out of teacher salaries to pay for State Superintendent Tom Luna’s reforms, the Idaho Digital Learning Academy, information technology training, discretionary dollars, Idaho Public Television, the Public Education Stabilization Fund, and Professional-Technical Education.
In other budget news, Sen. John Andreason (R-Boise) told JFAC today that state employees are badly overdue for a cost-of-living pay adjustment. Andreason suggested an ongoing 3 percent raise as opposed to the one-time bonus suggested by Gov. Butch Otter in his State of the State address last month. “We have created uncertainty for our teachers, discouraging our best and brightest from joining this important profession. So the responsible course of action would be to institute an across-the-board, ongoing, 3 percent salary increase,” said Andreason, adding that university and corrections staff are among other state employees whose pay has not remained competitive.
The Senate Education Committee heard once again from Jason Hancock of the State Department of Education, who outlined a variety of changes to the three education reform bills passed last year. The committee sent all three of the amending bills – S1327, S1328, and S1329 – on to the full Senate. Idaho Education Association President Penni Cyr said that just as the IEA opposed the original bills, we oppose the amendments as well. The three original bills will be on the ballot as Propositions 1, 2, and 3 this November; overturning them with NO votes will overturn the amendments as well.
The Senate Commerce & Human Resources Committee passed S1308. The IEA supports this bill, which would extend from one year to three years the time allowed to get a new job and transfer accumulated sick leave benefits for any educator who is laid off due to a Reduction in Force. It now goes to the full Senate.
In his role as President of the Council of Chief State School Officers, Tom Luna testified before the U.S. House Education & the Workforce Committee in Washington, D.C., on two of the bills meant to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. Read his remarks.