Governor Butch Otter issued a news release today reiterating his education priorities, and told Idahoans to encourage their legislators to approve his public education budget request. Earlier in this legislative session, Otter requested a 7.9% increase in the education budget for FY 2016-2017. The linchpins of that budget are $38.9 million to fund the second year of the Career Ladder allocation plan for professional educators and $30 million to bring operational funding back to 2009 levels (not accounting for inflation). We outlined further details of his budget request and the IEA’s response in a previous IEA Hotline.
Despite the significant and much-needed education funding increases requested by Otter (7.9%) and Superintendent of Public Instruction Sherri Ybarra (7.5%), the Idaho House voted 53-16 to approve HB 380, which lowers the state’s top two income tax rates and increased the grocery tax credit. The bill was sponsored by House Majority Leader Mike Moyle (R-Star), who called it a “fair bill that tries to touch all the bases” and said it “tries to make Idaho competitive with surrounding states.”
The tax cut bills passed mostly along party lines, with Rep. Ilana Rubel (D-Boise) and Rep. Mat Erpelding (D-Boise) among those who voiced opposition and voted against the bill. Reporter Betsy Russell of the Spokesman Review covered the hearing on the bill and her story includes some of the key testimony on both sides.
HB 380 now moves over to the Senate for a hearing.