The waning hours of the 2012 session were absorbed with debates about stockpiling cash, tax cuts, and teacher salaries. As we reported in last night’s hotline, the end of the session hinged on a compromise that provided $35 million for teacher salaries, $35 million for the Public Education Stabilization Fund, and $35 million for tax cuts.
The winding and weaving of proposals began late last evening with a JFAC decision to print HB 702, which, among other things, set aside enough money to assure a $35 million balance in the Public Education Stabilization Fund. Bill writers delivered the document late this afternoon, and the House and Senate quickly approved the measure.
Following nearly 90 minutes of testimony (mostly in opposition) early this morning, the Senate Local Government & Taxation Committee sent HB 563, the House-passed income tax cut bill for the wealthiest Idahoans, to the full Senate without recommendation.
Bill sponsor, Sen. Chuck Winder (R-Eagle) told committee members that HB 563 represented one of the legs of the “three-legged stool” needed to wrap up the session. He intimated that its fate would determine whether the legislature would sine die this week, or extended. The tax cut was among the final pieces of legislation to be considered by the 2012 Senate, and passed following brief debate.
The final portion of the trio of bills that made up the compromise—teacher salaries—came in the form of HB 698, the measure that reverses over five years about $35 million in teacher pay slashed in last year's ‘Students Come First’ education reforms. But sponsor Rep. Bob Nonini's (R-Post Falls) plan also prioritizes last year's reform programs, which include a merit pay program and new laptops, for any new funding.