After yesterday’s busy day in the House for education bills, today’s public action was concentrated into a House Education Committee meeting that ran just over 30 minutes first thing in the morning. H698, brought by Chairman Bob Nonini at the behest of bureaucrats who are fearful of the three referendums on the 2012 ballot, was explained in this Hotline message yesterday. Debate focused mainly on how this bill will create an increasingly flat salary schedule for Idaho teachers, who will then have to rely more on pay-for-performance bonuses for pay raises, rather than the current blend of experience and education. Though this latest, last-minute attempt to fix last year’s bad legislation is flawed and won’t work, it nevertheless passed on a voice vote along party lines, and it now goes to the full House.
Wednesday morning, Senate Republicans met for 90 minutes to hash over a plan that lawmakers are calling 35-35-35 because it would give roughly $35 million to restore teacher pay over five years (as outlined in H698); $35 million in tax cuts; and $35 million to refill depleted rainy-day accounts. Following the lengthy caucus, John Miller of the Associated Press reported that although the Senate Local Government & Taxation Committee will hold an 8 a.m. meeting Thursday on Gov. Butch Otter’s tax-cut request, its members are divided over whether to use the money for a tax cut to benefit relatively few or put additional money into rainy-day funds. If the House-passed tax cut clears the Senate panel, Sine Die will be nigh. And if not? “I'm guessing we're going to be here another couple of weeks.” Sen. John Goedde, R-Coeur d'Alene, told the AP.
In other news today:
The Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee made a $21.4 million transfer to the Public Education Stabilization Fund, the savings fund for public education.
The House passed H662, which would provide $600,000 next year and $1.2 million in years after for that to fund a National Guard-sponsored Youth Challenge alternative school in Pierce, Idaho. However, in a protracted debate that was reopened even after the vote failed, JFAC decided not to fund the program.