The 2011 Idaho Legislature begins January 10, and – as always – the Idaho Education Association will speak up on behalf of more than 275,000 students and 13,000+ plus educators across Idaho as officials and lawmakers do their work. Idaho schools have already faced nearly $200 million in cuts over the past two years. This will be the session in which Idahoans will watch to see:
Do our state leaders take seriously their Constitutional mandate to provide a “uniform and thorough system” of public, free common schools?
Will the Legislature continue to shift taxes to Idaho families by shortchanging the statewide education budget, which leads to more local school levy and bond requests and far greater out-of-pocket expenses for parents and teachers? Or will continued cuts worsen the patchwork of barely have, have-less, and have-not districts across Idaho?
The state’s Joint Finance-Approriations Committee has announced that it will hold a first-ever public hearing on school funding from 8 to 11 a.m. Friday, January 21, at the State Capitol. Plan to attend if you can, or contact your legislators and JFAC members ahead of time to let them know how the past two years of budget cuts have affected you and your students. You can also stay on top of developments at the Legislature by signing up for the IEA's Hotline updates; following us on Twitter or Facebook; and joining a local coalition of parents, educators, community leaders, and business owners near you.
Idaho already ranks 50th in the United States on the amount it invests annually in each child’s education. Lawmakers need to know that further deep cuts to education will do irreparable harm to Idaho’s children and our state’s ability to attract and retain top-quality businesses. You can make a difference by speaking out now as the Legislature begins its work.