Idaho will make history on Friday, January 21, as the Idaho Legislature's Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee holds a first-ever public hearing to take everyday Idahoans' testimony on the education budget.
This year, the important issue of K-12 school funding – slashed $200 million over the past two years – has taken a back seat to a roaring debate over State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna's hastily proposed plan to overhaul how Idaho schools operate. Even though parents and educators weren't consulted on most aspects of Luna's plan ahead of time, on January 21, people will pack the Capitol Auditorium to offer their views and ask questions about the proposal: whether it truly puts “students first” and whether it's the wisest use of scarce education funding.
JFAC issued these guidelines this week for people who plan to attend Friday's hearing or a subsequent hearing on January 28 on the state health and welfare budget. If you cannot attend the hearings, you can submit testimony via email.
Those wishing to testify (for a maximum of three minutes each) are encouraged to arrive early as the opportunity to testify will be given on a first come, first serve basis – with the co-chairs using their discretion to allow for geographic diversity. Legislative staff will begin taking sign-ups at 7 a.m.
Those testifying are encouraged to focus on the budget and be specific in their concerns and comments. Members of the public are encouraged to bring their testimony in writing. Due to limited time, all who come may not get a chance to testify before the committee. However, all written testimony will be taken, added to the public record and distributed to all committee members.
Those unable to attend one or both of the public hearings are encouraged to send their thoughts to JFACtestimony@lso.idaho.gov. Any comments sent to this email will be added to the public record and distributed to the members of the committee. The public hearing will be streamed live over the Internet and can be found at http://www.idahoptv.org/leglive/.
For additional information, please call Idaho Legislative Services at (208) 332-4730.
Keys to Successful Testimony
- Be specific. Tell the committee how you want the budget to look: what programs/projects need to be preserved, which will be least harmful to cut?
- Write down your testimony. If you get nervous, you'll have something to refer to. Also, if you don't get a chance to testify, you can turn in your written testimony. It will be added to the public record and shared with the committee.
- Arrive early. Testimony will be given on a first come, first serve basis (with some allowances, granted at the Chair's discretion, for geographic diversity).
- Be polite. Committee members are most receptive to constructive, thoughtful comments. This is a forum meant to gather public input, and everyone should feel comfortable sharing their opinions.