Members of the House and Senate Education Committees will meet in a joint session on Thursday afternoon to discuss the issues of school choice and the Blaine Amendment.
The agenda posted on the legislative website identifies the meeting as a presentation by Rep. Ronald Nate (R-Rexburg). Hotline readers will recall that Rep. Nate is the sponsor of HJR 1, the legislative measure proposing an amendment to the Idaho Constitution to allow public money to be used for private and parochial schools.
The meeting, which begins at 2:30 in the Lincoln Auditorium on the Garden Level of the Capitol, will be open to the public; but no public testimony nor legislative votes will be taken.
Please plan to attend Thursday’s meeting and help show your support for public schools.
JFAC Begins Funding Trailer Legislation
Members of the Joint Finance and Appropriations Committee (JFAC) began meeting on Wednesday to add funding to certain agency budgets. The additional funding is the result of legislation that has successfully passed since the agency budgets were originally set earlier this month.
At Wednesday’s meeting began, JFAC Co-Chair Maxine Bell (R-Jerome), announced that the joint committee will meet again on Friday to print trailer bills related to the public schools FY 17 budget.
Also on Wednesday, Governor Otter’s STEM Action Center received over $2 million in funding for the coming year. JFAC approved funding to allow the center to hire a program manager who will oversee Idaho’s newly created STEM Initiative, created by HB 379. And, a newly created STEM Education Fund was provided a one-time $2 million distribution, which is significantly less than the $10 million recommended by the governor.
JFAC also approved the distribution of nearly $1 million to the Department of Administration to cover the legal bills resulting from the years’ long legal battle resulting from the Idaho Education Network contract fiasco. When questioned by a committee member about whether this distribution would be the end of the issue, Rep. Bell replied, “I don’t see an end at this point.” You can read a full report on this issue and today’s meeting on Idaho Ed News.
Senate Panel Moves to Amend Innovation School Bill
Members of the Senate Education Committee sent HB 570—the Idaho School Innovation Act legislation backed by Rep. Wendy Horman (R-Idaho Falls)—to the floor with a motion that it pass over the objections of the IEA.
IEA Director of Public Policy Matt Compton testified against the bill on behalf of the IEA. He urged committee members to hold the bill and follow the recommendation of the governor’s task force. As Compton told the committee, “Process is incredibly important and adhering to process will go a long way toward fostering real innovation and eliminate doubt, concern and confusion.”