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BOISE -- A bill ending a retirement incentives program for teachers has passed in the Idaho Senate.

The measure approved on a 29-6 vote Tuesday would eliminate early retirement benefits for teachers nearing the end of their career.

That program was dumped under the 2011 Students Come First laws, but reinstated when voters repealed those measures in November.

Boise Republican Sen. Cliff Bayer said the program is intended to save the state money, but data shows many teachers retire early regardless of the extra benefits.

Boise Democrat Sen. Branden Durst countered with competing research showing that replacing veteran, high salaried teachers with cheaper recent college graduates has saved the state millions of dollars in the last decade.

The proposal now moves to the House for debate.

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