As expected, the Idaho Legislature’s Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee finished setting agency budgets today, which means it’s likely that the 2012 session will end on or about March 23. As Betsy Russell wrote at Eye on Boise, “Conventional wisdom holds that once JFAC has finished setting agency budgets, the legislative session will wrap up in two weeks,” and the March 23 Sine Die target has been on many lips for a few weeks now.
But there is still work to be done on a variety of legislation. Today, the House Education Committee passed three bills – S1327, S1328, and S1329 – to the full House. These bills make a variety of small changes to the three education reform laws passed last year. Idaho Education Association President Penni Cyr reiterated to the committee that just as the IEA opposed the original bills, we oppose the amending bills, too. The three original bills will be on the ballot as Propositions 1, 2, and 3 this November; voting NO on them will overturn the amendments as well.
The Senate calendar currently includes several bills that the IEA has been watching closely. H481 would lift the current caps on charter schools and H564 is the bill making changes to a law regarding employee records and Professional Standards Commission investigations. The Senate also has H526 (the “8-in-6” credit acceleration bill, with its unknown costs) and S1358 (the anti-bullying bill) on its amending order for further discussion. S1308, which would extend from one year to three years the amount of time an educator has to find a new job and transfer existing sick leave benefits, awaits action in the full House.
Also this week:
The House Education Committee agreed to print H646, a bill from Rep. Brian Cronin (D-Boise) that aims to increase transparency of for-profit education management organizations operating in Idaho. Read the bill here, and watch the Hotline for further developments on this.
Also looking ahead to next week, 2012 Idaho Teacher of the Year Erin Lenz of Winton Elementary School in Coeur d’Alene will speak to the Idaho Legislature’s education committees on Monday. Erin is an IEA member; read more about her here.
The Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee approved public schools budget for Fiscal Year 2013 representing a 4.6 percent increase in state general funds. The overall budget, however, increased just 0.4 percent above this year's level, due to a decrease in federal funds. And although the recession is easing, Idaho schools will still receive $139 million less from the general fund in Fiscal Year 2013 than in FY2009. Read more here.
Today was the last day for people to file to run for elected office in Idaho this year. See who's running.