Education budget holding up legislature

Education budget holding up legislature

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by Stephanie Zepelin

Bio | Email | Follow: @ktvbstephanie

KTVB.COM

Posted on March 31, 2013 at 9:35 PM

Updated Wednesday, Nov 13 at 6:45 AM

BOISE -- The Idaho legislature is entering what could be the last few days of the session, but that depends on one big bill. After the defeat of the education budget bill, the legislatures plans to end the session on Good Friday didn't work out.

There is no deadline or date they have to wrap up by. Some sessions end in March, others last until May. It was one vote that defeated the education budget and kept them from wrapping up the session last week.

"It looked like they were headed that direction until this vote on Wednesday," said KTVB political analyst, Dr. Jim Weatherby. "The budget bill is a huge bill for education, it's 47% of the general fund, thought what was an issue here really was only two percent of that budget."

It's just two percent holding them up, but Weatherby said it's controversial.

"That involved a couple of elements from students come first, dealing with pay for performance as well as technology in the classroom, and the monies to unfreeze the salary grid for teachers," said Weatherby.

He said he's never seen anything like it.

"This is unprecedented to have a referendum measure kill Students Come First, monumental legislation, and then the legislature coming back within a  few months and starting to deal with that referendum measure."

Weatherby said when you talk to legislators, they express sensitivity to the way the public voted on Students Come First, but there's still language in the education budget bill that some say is intent language to bring back elements of Students Come First.

"They need to pass a balanced budget, and the biggest part of that budget, or the biggest bill is the public education bill. It's 47% of the general fund and that is the big stumbling block toward final adjournment."

Dr. Weatherby said the longer the legislature goes, the more pressure there will be to consider other bills they didn't have time for before. For example, Weatherby points to the senate bill that exempts state from Boise city rules, in their efforts to get a parking garage built on the capitol mall.

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