The House Education Committee killed legislation proposed by House Education Chair Rep. Reed DeMordaunt (R-Eagle) on a tie vote.
The bill, HB 307 (http://www.legislature.idaho.gov/legislation/2013/H0307.htm) would have required that 1.67 percent of the money set aside for teacher salaries be spent to add more staff or increase contract days.
The IEA opposed HB 307, as this funding was cut from teacher salaries in 2011 to provide a funding stream for the concepts outlined in Proposition 3. The repeal of the law in the November election returned this salary funding, and it’s included in the school budget for next year set by the Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee.
Special thanks to IEA members Sherilyn Paris (Boise), Angelina Wilson (Meridian), Adria Hultburg (Boise), Sandy Merrick (Boise), and Jordan Sims (Meridian) for their testimony in opposition to the legislation. These educators did superb job of providing legislators with real-life examples of how this bill would negatively affect them and their colleagues across the state. In the end, their testimony made the difference in the outcome of this bill.
Please take a moment and send a special note of thanks to the following legislators for voting to hold HB 307 in committee: Rep. Rich Wills (R-Glenns Ferry), Rep. Cindy Agidius (R-Moscow), Rep. Lance Clow (R-Twin Falls), Rep. Steven Harris (R-Meridian), Rep. Ron Mendive (R-CDA), Rep. Donna Pence (D-Gooding), Rep. Hy Kloc (D-Boise), and Rep. Janie Ward-Engelking (D-Boise).
Senate Committee Approves Three More Education Bills
Following brief testimony and no debate, members of the Senate Education Committee moved three bills—two of which the IEA opposes and one that we support—to the floor with a recommendation that they “do pass.”
SB 1149 (http://www.legislature.idaho.gov/legislation/2013/S1149.htm) requires the local association to prove that they represent 50% + 1 of the professional employees in the district in negotiations, should the district request such information and it also requires both the district and the local association to prove they have ratified the master agreement each year. The IEA opposed this legislation for several reasons, but of most importance to us is that the legislation does not include a sunset clause. After committee members made a point about the importance of the clause in yesterday’s meeting and actually sent at least one bill to the amending order to add a sunset clause, the IEA made the same request regarding this bill today. That request was summarily dismissed by lawmakers.
SB 1150 (http://www.legislature.idaho.gov/legislation/2013/S1150.htm) limits courts from considering new evidence, should a board hearing be challenged in District Court. IEA General Counsel Paul Stark outlined how this legislation would create further challenges for teachers to get a fair dismissal hearing. He urged lawmakers to hold the bill in committee and allow for a more thorough and fair hearing process first be developed and implemented prior to implementing the concepts outlined in SB 1150.
HB 261 (http://www.legislature.idaho.gov/legislation/2013/H0261.htm) requires RIF decisions be made by the local school board and encourages the board to adopt a policy establishing how to recall individuals who were subject of a RIF. This bill also includes a sunset provision making it null and void after July 1, 2014. The sunset provision made it feasible for IEA to support this legislation.
Senate Gives IEA Bill Unanimous Nod of Approval
The Senate voted 35-0 today to approve SB 1146 (http://www.legislature.idaho.gov/legislation/2013/S1146.htm), the IEA-sponsored bill that allows qualifying local school districts to reopen the master contract, if their funding is reduced in future years due to state cuts or failed supplemental levies. The IEA introduced this legislation to counter SB 1148, the ISBA-sponsored bill that allows school boards to unilaterally impose changes to teacher contract days and salaries for any reason or no reason whatsoever and without first negotiating those changes with the local association.
This bill now moves to the House Education Committee.
Urge Representatives to Kill HB 286
The House of Representatives is expected to take up debate early Wednesday morning on HB 286 (http://www.legislature.idaho.gov/legislation/2013/H0286.htm), legislation sponsored by Rep. John VanderWoude (R-Nampa) and Sen. Bob Nonini (R-Post Falls) that would provide dollar-for-dollar tax credits to individuals and corporations who donate money for students to attend private or sectarian K-12 schools.
We are urging IEA members and other public school supporters to immediately send an email to your two representatives (http://legislature.idaho.gov/howtocontactlegislators.htm) and urge them to vote NO on HB 286.
Here are a few points to consider as you compose your email to your two representatives:
- Tuition tax credits ultimately pave the way to a two-tiered school system funded by public tax dollars.
- Tuition tax credits do nothing to improve the education of a few children who receive them, and they also do nothing for the majority of students who remain in public schools that are harmed by the budget cuts required by the loss of tax revenue.
- The act of funneling money through a financial sieve does not change the fact that we’re talking about tax dollars.
- Education tax subsidies represent bad tax policy. Government provides public services for the benefit of all members of society.
- Taxpayers may not choose which of these services their tax dollars will support, and which they’d prefer not to fund. Taxpayers who buy books, for example, should not receive a tax credit for not patronizing the public library.
- Nor should taxpayers who prefer country clubs to public golf courses receive tax credits to compensate them for the additional cost of that private choice.
- Likewise, taxpayers who choose to send their children to private school should not receive tax credits to pay the tuition.
IEA Members Meet with Lawmakers
About 50 IEA members, mostly representing the Boise and Meridian Education Associations, took a day away from their classrooms on Tuesday to meet with legislators and discuss the various education bills currently being debated by lawmakers.
Educators attended committee meetings, watched from the House and Senate galleries as legislators debated bills, and met one-on-one with their own representatives to discuss many of their concerns about the many pieces of legislation sponsored by the school boards and school administrators associations.
Members reported they had excellent discussions and appreciated the opportunity to dialogue with policymakers about the legislation and its impact on them personally and professionally.
The IEA lobby team appreciated their company and support!