The Idaho Legislature’s Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee has been hearing budget requests for the past two weeks, and it is State Superintendent Tom Luna’s turn Thursday. The public schools budget presentation starts at 8 a.m. Mountain tomorrow and should last until about 10:15. You can watch it live here.
JFAC will also give the public a chance to weigh in on the budget at a “listening hearing” next week. The event is set for 8 to 10:30 a.m. Friday, February 3, in the Capitol Auditorium. As they did at the historic hearings last year, the budget writers will take public testimony on budget priorities that matter most to everyday Idahoans. Testimony will be limited to three minutes per person.
In more news on the budget front, Gov. Butch Otter spoke this morning with members of the Idaho Press Club. Idaho Statesman editorial page editor Kevin Richert gave a recap on his blog, including a few interesting education-related items:
• On Tuesday, a legislative committee came in with a cautious revenue projection for 2012-13 — setting up a $33.3 million gap between Otter’s budget and the Legislature’s budget. The two sides will negotiate, he said.
• Some lawmakers have questioned Otter’s budgeting priorities, saying state employee and teacher pay raises should come before tax relief. Is Otter open to rethinking things? “We’re discussing that.”
• State schools superintendent Tom Luna wants to backfill an additional $19.7 million into the teacher salary pool, and the idea seems to have some support from legislative budget-writers. Otter didn’t budget this money; is he adamant about holding the line? “We’re discussing that.”
At Eye on Boise, Spokesman-Review reporter Betsy Russell elaborated a bit more, noting that Otter said “he's in discussions with lawmakers about making a switch in priorities in his budget proposal, switching state employee raises or bonuses from being a ‘surplus-eliminator’ that happens only if revenues meet forecasts, to fully including them in the budget while swapping tax cuts to the ‘surplus-eliminator’ category. That's something many lawmakers are talking about. ‘We're discussing that – I'm open to the discussion on it,’ Otter said.”
District 9 meeting this Saturday: The Weiser Education Association, Payette Education Association, and Fruitland Education Association will partner to host Sen. Monty Pearce (R-New Plymouth), Speaker of the House Rep. Lawerence Denney (R-Midvale), and Rep. Judy Boyle (R-Midvale) for a meeting this Saturday morning at the Payette Chamber of Commerce, 695 2nd Ave. S., Payette. Stop by between 10 and 11 a.m. for conversation with the lawmakers. Coffee, juice, water, and muffins will be provided.