It was a light education news day at the Statehouse, but a few interesting headlines emerged. For one thing, Idaho state tax revenues came in $6.3 million ahead of projections for January, mostly due to sales tax collections. Here’s the Division of Financial Management’s monthly report.
With that as a backdrop, the Senate Education Committee today began consideration of its budget protections. Chairman John Goedde (R-Coeur d’Alene) noted that the Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee expects to hear the committee’s recommendation soon, so he worked today to get a sense of the committee’s will on everything from backfilling money shifted from salary based apportionment to continuing support for the Idaho Digital Learning Academy. While the IEA has acknowledged the necessity of making money available for improved salaries for the coming year, it is also important to note that this is a one-year stop-gap measure; it will do nothing to stop or slow down the increasing cuts to the salary based apportionment that will be necessary to fund the Luna reforms in the ensuing years.
Also today, the House Resources Committee introduced a bill that would require the State Land Board to sell off or lease any improvements on endowment lands as well as sell off any operations that compete with private businesses. As the Associated Press reports, “It's a touchy issue, because the Land Board must pursue the highest returns from endowment properties to benefit schools, according to the Idaho Constitution.” A Boise self-storage business has generated good returns for the land board since 2010.
The House Education Committee approved S1237, the bill that would allow an online course teacher to be in the same building with students taking the course. The measure, which already passed the Senate, now goes to the full House.
Finally, the Idaho Statesman today had an editorial urging the Legislature to backfill the $19.4 million, as State Superintendent Tom Luna has requested, too. IEA President Penni Cyr has submitted a letter to the newspaper reminding voters that although the IEA supports backfilling the salaries, too, that step alone will not correct the long-term funding problems created by Luna’s reforms. Voting No on Propositions 1, 2, and 3 on the November 6 is the best way to undo the damage. The Propositions and ballot titles now appear on the Idaho Secretary of State’s website.