Late Wednesday afternoon, the Senate printed S1410, the FY 13 public school appropriations bill . This measure, passed several weeks ago by the Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee (JFAC), provides an additional 4.6 percent more state money to schools in the coming year. However, a reduction in federal funds means schools will actually receive only .4 percent new funding in the coming year. Most of the new money is a result of expected student growth in the coming year.
Under S1410, Idaho schools will still receive $139 million less from the general fund in Fiscal Year 2013 than in FY2009. Minimum teacher salaries will climb to $30,500, which is $1,250 less than new teachers earned in FY 09. Additionally, discretionary funds—the funds districts use to pay to keep the schools running and for the purchase of additional programs and expenses not specifically funded by the legislature—will be $6,070 less per classroom next year than they received in FY09.
Sen. Bart Davis (R-Idaho Falls) announced today that the Senate hopes to complete their work by mid-week next week. To meet that deadline, senators will need to dispatch with the funding bill in the next few days.
Has a compromise been reached?
Though no one is making any announcements, the fact that the public school funding bill has now been printed signals that a compromise may have been reached regarding teacher salaries and tax cuts.
Senator Dean Cameron’s (R-Rupert) S1331, which would require budget writers to fully fund the technology and pay-for-performance education mandates passed by lawmakers last year, rather than taking the money from salary-based apportionment, has been lingering in House Education Committee Chairman Bob Nonini’s (R-Post Falls) desk for several weeks now. That measure would cost $35 million. Ironically, the same day that SB 1331 was approved, the House passed Governor Otter’s tax cut package to benefit Idaho corporations and the state’s top earners. The cost? $35 million.
In his appearance last week on Public Television’s Idaho Reports, Rep. Nonini told Greg Hahn that he would not schedule a hearing on Cameron’s bill. Instead, he introduced H656, which would backfill the salary-based apportionment for FY 13 only. Nonini noted that there is a philosophical divide between the House and the Senate regarding what is most important—tax cuts or teacher salaries.
As is typical each session, competing interests make for a “going home” compromise. This year, that compromise appears to be between teacher salaries and tax cuts. We should have a clear idea of what the compromise looks like in the next few days. In the meantime, the fact that the education funding bill has been printed signals that at least one year of salary-based apportionment will be backfilled.
Here’s a snapshot of the remaining bills we are tracking:
H564 This bill makes changes to a bill passed last just year dealing with employee records and Professional Standards Commission investigations. The IEA debated against earlier versions of this bill, but over the course of the last few days, the IEA was able to negotiate some compromise language with the bill sponsors that clarifies a former employee will be provided any information from other investigative files, and that newly hired employees will receive full salary and benefits while awaiting a review of their personnel files. Passed the Senate; returned to House for concurrence with amendments
H670 Circumvents the Idaho Constitution’s prohibitions against state support for private schools. It would establish Scholarship Granting Organizations to allow Idahoans within generous income guidelines to get a dollar-for-dollar, penny-for-penny tax credit for money donated, via the SGO, to fund a child’s attendance at a private or religious school. Corporations would be eligible for a 50 percent tax break for such donations to private schools. The IEA opposes this legislation. Still sitting on General Orders—the House amending order
H694 Billed as a tweak to the liability insurance reporting requirements passed last year in Senate Bill 1108, this bill (formerly H671) mainly serves to give a leading IEA opponent another chance to step onto a soapbox and pitch a “non-union” alternative organization that has failed in Idaho’s free marketplace. House 2nd Reading Calendar
S1358a, This bill, supported by the IEA, more clearly defines bullying and cyberbullying, requires school districts to create and post written policies and train staff on how to stop bullying. House Education Committee