The third week at the 2012 Idaho Legislature was marked by State Superintendent Tom Luna’s budget presentation before the Joint-Finance Appropriations Committee on Thursday. Luna is anxious to have the budget writers fully fund his technology and pay-for-performance mandates as well as use part of a projected budget surplus to backfill a scheduled $19.67 million shift from salary-based apportionment funding. Read more here.
Will Luna get his wish? Today, JFAC accepted the Economic Outlook & Revenue Assessment Committee’s revenue projections for Fiscal Year 2013, which earlier this week set a target $33 million below Gov. Butch Otter’s projection. The governor’s plan fully funds the reforms he pushed with Luna last year (now subject to a voter referendum in November), but it does not include the shift Luna that Luna seeks to make salaries whole. JFAC will set a final budget target later this session.
Luna also announced Thursday that school districts representing two-thirds of the state’s high school students have applied to be among the first third that will receive mobile computing devices. (Rather than giving laptops to every ninth grader, Luna’s plan now calls for distributing them to all students in one third of Idaho’s high schools each year starting in 2013-14.)
The only other major education-related news of the week was the House Education Committee’s decision to approve a rule that the IEA contends would further limit what teachers can talk about with their school boards in negotiations. The rule was approved last week by the Senate Education Committee, so it is now law.
Beyond education, the week’s biggest news centered on the state’s long-delayed redistricting efforts. The redistricting commission resumed its work Thursday in the wake of last week’s Idaho Supreme Court ruling that their maps split too many counties, and they voted Friday afternoon to adopt a new map – but not before Republican leaders tried to fire two of the three panel members earlier in the week for being insufficiently partisan. Also on Thursday, the House voted 56-14 to evict Occupy Boise from its site within view of the Capitol.
Looking ahead to next week:
• The House Education Committee will hear H406 at its meeting 9 a.m. Monday. This bill, sponsored by Rep. JoAn Wood (R-Rigby) and Rep. Bob Nonini (R-Coeur d’Alene) seeks to change how school districts provide documentation on past employees who are seeking jobs in new districts as well as employees charged with ethics violations before the Professional Standards Commission. It also would turn teachers into “temps” for a minimum of 50 days: 20 days for a former employer to provide records and an additional 30 days for the new employer to review the files. Fifty days represents more than a quarter of the typical teacher’s contract year.
• JFAC will hold a “listening hearing” on the FY2013 budget from 8 to 10:30 a.m. Friday, Feb. 3 in the Capitol Auditorium. Although most educators will be working at that time, parents and other advocates for public schools can use the opportunity to speak up to 3 minutes about their priorities for next year’s budget.