Governor Otter kicked off the 1st Session of the 63rd Idaho Legislature on Monday afternoon with his annual “State of the State” address.
During his 45 minute presentation, the governor told lawmakers and others assembled that he will be proposing a 7.4% increase for public schools for FY16.
Otter recommended that lawmakers bolster local discretionary funding—those funds school districts use to operate programs and pay for expenses not funded specifically in the budget—by an additional $20 million. It is important to note that under the governor’s proposal, this crucial funding source would continue to fall far short of 2009 funding levels when schools received $25,696 per classroom unit.
In addition to increasing discretionary funding, Otter also promoted other recommendations coming from the State Board of Education’s Task Force for Improving Education, including teacher professional development, college and career counseling for students and a career ladders teacher pay system.
State Superintendent Sherri Ybarra has yet to unveil her budget request. She is scheduled to make her pitch to members of the Joint Finance and Appropriations Committee (JFAC) on January 29th and the joint committee will is planning to begin the FY 16 budget-setting process in mid-February.
Gov. Otter told lawmakers that the Idaho Education Network (IEN) is “an asset that must be maintained.” As a result, he announced that the state will begin the process of rebidding the contracts and he urged lawmakers to continue to fully fund the IEN through FY16 to ensure Idaho schools stay connected during the rebidding process.
The Governor’s staff will be providing more details regarding his funding proposals to JFAC on Tuesday. We’ll be carefully reviewing that information and providing more details over the next few weeks.