It appeared late Tuesday afternoon that the 2015 Idaho Legislature might be able to conclude their business late Wednesday or early Thursday morning and adjourn sine die.
Those plans were scuttled on Wednesday afternoon when the full House rejected the Senate amendments to HB 312, initiating House Speaker Scott Bedke’s (R-Oakley) announcement to the members of the House that he would petition for a Conference Committee. He told House members, “This seems to be a good path forward on this impasse between the two bodies.”
Though Conference Committees have been used in the past, it is rare that the legislature is required to resort to this procedure. Effectively, when the two bodies are unable to agree on amendments to a bill, both the Senate and the House nominate 3 members (2 from the majority party and 1 from the minority party) to meet and try to come to agreement on amendments to a bill. If the conference is successful, that product becomes the new amendment to the bill.
Education Funding and Transportation Funding: What’s the Nexus?
It is unusual for the IEA to focus on legislation that would otherwise seem unrelated to public schools. However, this year we’ve been vigilant in guarding general fund dollars as lawmakers have sought hundreds of millions of dollars to fund road and highway repairs.
Governor Otter signaled in his State of the State address, that he would not look favorably on attempts to dip into the general fund to fix our state’s roadways.
Remind Governor Otter to Protect Public Schools
Ask anyone who spends each day of the legislative session at the Capitol and they will tell you that anything can happen in the last few days of the legislative session.
In the rush to wrap up the work, quick decisions can lead to unintended consequences.
There is no doubt that Idaho’s transportation and infrastructure needs have been neglected for too long. However, the IEA has reminded lawmakers several times this session that we simply cannot support legislation that would remove money from the General Fund, which is the ONLY fund the state draws upon to fund our public schools.
Governor Otter agreed with that sentiment in his State of the State Address. It is imperative that we continue to remind the Governor of his statement.
Please contact Governor Otter. Ask him to stand firm on his proclamation that he will NOT entertain proposals aimed at competing for General Fund tax dollars with education. Urge him to support public schools and VETO any transportation legislation that would dip into these important tax revenues.