Legislation that would cut Idaho’s top tax rate from 7.4% to 7.2%, but reduce the state’s general fund dollars by more than $52 million per year, has passed the House, but what happens next remains unclear. As Bill Dentzer reports in the Idaho Statesman, Senate Tax Committee chairman Dan Johnson (R-Lewiston) is not guaranteeing that HB 67 will get a hearing in his committee.
Opponents of the bill, including the IEA, have serious concerns. Among them:
- It is likely to bring about more local levies to fund schools, making it a tax shift, not a tax cut.
- It relies on a projected budget surplus, the size or existence of which is uncertain.
- It provides only a very small measure of tax relief for low and middle income Idahoans, but a significant windfall for the wealthy
We urge you to contact your state Senator, and tell him/her that HB 67 is a bad idea for Idaho. Many legislators are also holding town hall meetings in their districts. We also urge you to attend these town hall meetings to share your feedback.
House Education Committee OKs Accountability System-Part of ESSA Requirements
A new school accountability system developed by the State Department of Education and the State Board of Education was approved by the House Education Committee Friday. The new system is among the requirements of the federal ESSA (Every Student Succeeds Act), and features multiple metrics for measuring school accountability. The IEA followed the development of the new system very closely over the last year and half, and believes that it represents a positive step. “It isn’t perfect, but it is a departure from and improvement on the previous accountability measures of the No Child Left Behind legislation,” said Matt Compton, IEA Director of Public Policy.
The State Department of Education recently delayed the presentation of Idaho’s ESSA plan to the State Board of Education from February to April, at the earliest. A draft version of the ESSA plan is posted on the SDE website, along with a button for public feedback on the plan.
Crapo Will Vote “Yes” on DeVos; Risch Won’t Say
Idaho Senator Mike Crapo will vote to confirm Betsy DeVos as Education Secretary, his spokesperson told Idaho Education News Friday. “DeVos says she favors more state and local control of education, and Crapo agrees with that principal,” spokesperson Lindsay Northern said.
“We also support state and local control, but that doesn’t change the fact that DeVos is unqualified to be Education Secretary,” was the reaction of IEA President Penni Cyr. “Her track record shows a proclivity toward policies that will be disastrous for students and public schools, and she has significant ethical and conflict-of-interest baggage.” Call Sen. Crapo at 202-224-6142, Sen. Risch at 202-224-2752.
Sen. Jim Risch has not responded to questions about his intentions for the confirmation vote, which is expected to come early next week. Two Republican Senators have reportedly said they will vote “no” on DeVos, although both voted “yes” in committee when her confirmation could have been halted. Currently the Senate vote appears to be tied at 50-50, which would require Vice President Mike Pence to cast the tie-breaking vote—the first time in U.S. history that would have occurred for a cabinet nominee.