The Idaho legislature has finally completed its third-longest session in history, adjourning Sine Die Thursday after 95 days. Education-related legislation had largely been put to bed a couple of weeks ago, but Medicaid expansion and ballot initiative bills kept legislators busy well into April. Despite fervent public opposition, the legislature passed SB 1204, which adds work requirements to the Medicaid expansion voters approved in the last election. Gov. Little has now signed this bill. After Little vetoed a bill that would have made it much more difficult to get citizen-driven initiatives on the ballot, the legislature circled back and attempted to push through slightly different bills to achieve the same goal, but that legislation died in the Senate.
Minimum Starting Teacher Salary Becomes Law; Funding Formula Still Needs Work The most noteworthy legislation relevant to educators was the passage of HB 153, which will set a minimum starting teacher salary of $38,500 next year and $40,000 in 2020-2021. The IEA supported this bill, while also noting the importance of addressing Idaho’s teacher retention issue, including increased compensation for veteran teachers. With the session winding down, the legislature passed HB 293, which looks to get a handle on definitions of student groups such as at-risk and economically disadvantaged, as well as gathering data by increasing reporting requirements on schools and districts. The bill, dubbed “funding formula lite”, came about when legislators were not able to reach consensus on overhauling Idaho’s public school funding formula. The legislature may revisit a new funding formula during the next session.
Stay tuned for further analysis of what occurred during the legislative session and how it impacts educators and students when we share our annual legislative recap podcast and other resources in the coming days. 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.