Members of the Joint Finance and Appropriations Committee met Friday morning and unanimously approved $101 million more funding for FY16. This represents a 7.4% increase in general funds and an overall 8.2% increase when dedicated and federal funds are factored in.
Funding for the JFAC budget is based on an increase of 167 new support units (117 new units for FY 16 and 50 units to cover the growth that was underestimated for FY 15).
Here’s a snapshot of what the bill will fund:
- $33.5 million to fund the first year of the career ladder system;
- $33.2 million to increase discretionary/operational funding from $22,401 per unit to $23,868 per support unit—an increase of $1467 per unit for FY 16. Even with the increase outlined in the funding measure introduced by JFAC, school districts will still receive $1828 less per support unit than in 2009;
- $16.1 million for teacher leadership premiums—also outlined in the new career ladders legislation;
- $13.2 million for teacher professional development, the bulk of which will be sent directly to school districts for their use. The increased funding that will be distributed to school districts is equivalent to 2.5 days of professional development for each teacher in the state;
- $13 million (a 66% increase over FY15) for classroom technology;
- $6 million for Advanced Opportunities to allow students to complete college level courses while still in high school; and
- $2.1 million for Wi-Fi services.
IEA President Penni Cyr told reporters that the IEA has viewed every policy recommendation through the lens of whether the measure will help recruit and retain teachers. “We are hopeful that the increases in this budget and the promise of future salary increases outlined in the career ladder legislation will be adequate to retain current employees and encourage those who are considering whether to teach or to teach in Idaho to do so.”
Is Omnibus Tax Measure the “Going Home” Bill?
Each year there is one bill that must be addressed before the legislature will adjourn sine die. HB 311 may be that bill for the 2015 session.
The 17-page tax proposal, co-sponsored by House Majority Leader Mike Moyle(R-Star) and House Speaker Scott Bedke (R-Oakley) will:
- Add 7 cents to the gas tax (this is estimated to raise $63 million for road repairs);
- Lower the top income tax rate from 7.4% to 6.7% (estimated to reduce tax revenue by $23 million);
- Eliminate the tax on groceries (estimated to reduce general fund revenue by $170+ million beginning in FY 17), and
- Remove the grocery tax credit (estimated to save $140 million on a one-time basis).
The net effect of this legislation, should it pass, would be a hit to the general fund in FY 17 of over $57 million. Every year thereafter, that amount is expected to increase significantly. Some estimates are as high as $180 million each year.
The only state financial support for public school is derived from the general fund. This legislation could severely and negatively impact public schools.
You are urged to contact your two representatives. Press them to put public schools first by opposing HB 311.