Gov. Little Vetoes Bill to Make Ballot Initiatives More Difficult
Thanks in no small part to the feedback from IEA members and others concerned with protecting the voice of the people, a bill that would have made it nearly impossible to get voter-driven initiatives on the ballot has been vetoed by Gov. Brad Little. SB 1159 was passed by both the House and Senate over strenuous objections from the IEA and the public at large.
This legislation was a clear rebuke of the citizens who worked tirelessly to collect signatures to get the Medicaid Expansion proposal on the ballot. Those of us in public education saw this before when the legislature raised the bar after voters resoundingly rejected the Luna Laws via Propositions 1, 2, and 3.
Funding Formula Definitions Bill Passes Senate
The Senate followed the lead of the House and passed HB 293, which attempts to narrow down several definitions pertinent to Idaho’s public school funding formula and also increases data collection and reporting requirements for schools and districts. This legislation does not change how the state funds public education, but could be a step in that direction. With considerable confusion surrounding an overhaul of the funding formula, the legislature opted to tap the brakes on a full rewrite, instead going with HB 293 in an effort to inform future decision-making.
Lawmakers have struggled to identify adequate definitions for student groups such as “at risk” and “economically disadvantaged”, which are important components of the funding formula revision. The hope HB 293 will bridge that gap and provide a clearer path forward when they return to the weights and spreadsheets that will drive any change in the formula. This bill now goes to the Governor’s desk.
State Board of Education Budget Includes Funding for Task Force, MEP Administration
The Joint Finance and Appropriations Committee (JFAC) has developed a revised version of a funding bill for the State Board of Education. HB 297 still includes $100,000 for a new task force on K-12 public education, which will give the IEA and other education stakeholders an opportunity to collaborate on education policy initiatives and the ongoing direction of public schools in Idaho. Also included is $263,000 to fund the administration and review of Master Educator Premiums for veteran teachers. JFAC opted to remove $750,000 that had been set aside to fund a “turnaround” schools program.
Make sure you get all the latest news on legislative and policy developments from the session by subscribing to the Hotline, which is e-mailed every Friday and as developments warrant during the legislative session.