All seven of the education budget bills easily passed the full House Monday, and will now head to the Senate for the next step toward final approval. There was no debate on any of the funding bills, and only a handful of representatives casting votes against them. The Senate is expected to take up the funding bills later this week. The governor must also sign off on them before they become law.
Included in the new legislation is $61.9 million to fully fund year three of the Career Ladder salary allocation plan for teachers. Overall, the bills account for a 6.3% increase in general fund spending, which translates to a little over $100 million. Discretionary funding also increased 4.1%, raising the amount allocated per support unit (roughly equivalent to a full classroom) to $26,242 per unit. Folded into the discretionary funding is an increase specifically targeted at helping districts with rising health insurance costs. This tactic was supported by the IEA and differs from the line-item approach proposed by Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter.
“Thank you to all of the members of the Idaho House who voted for this legislation, and particularly to Rep. Wendy Horman (R-Idaho Falls) for shepherding these key bills through JFAC and the House,” said IEA President Penni Cyr. “This budget shows the legislature’s increasing commitment to investing in public education and to helping Idaho recruit and retain high quality teachers.”
Support for the increased investment is strong in virtually every corner of the Capitol. House Speaker Scott Bedke told Idaho Education News that the bills represent “a very responsible budget, not only for taxpayers, but for the education stakeholders.”