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Eye On Boise

Arguments over teacher pay – but then all agree

When the House debated HB 845 this morning, the slice of the public school budget that includes funding for teacher pay, Rep. Bill Sali, R-Kuna, debated against the bill sponsored by Rep. Scott Bedke, R-Oakley, but then voted for it. The bill was approved unanimously.

S-R reporter Meghann Cuniff reports that Sali began his remarks by emphasizing, “It’s not my intention to declare war on our teachers.” But then, he continued, “By raising their starting salary to $30,000, you’re pushing all teachers well into the top half of all wage earners in the state.” He said teachers work only nine months out of the year. “I’m not sure what message we send to all of the other working people in the state when we single out teachers in this manner,” Sali said.

Rep. Stan Bastian, a school administrator, spoke in support of the salary increase. “I take this as almost a personal issue,” he said. “The profession needs the support of this legislature. … How many professionals do you know of that require degree and certification that start so low? … I think it’s a false premise to say that we need to compare teachers to all workers in Idaho. We need to compare teachers to all professionals who have a four year degree in Idaho.”

Bedke said the boost in starting teacher pay is needed. “We need to attract new good teachers to Idaho,” he said. “I think that this is consistent with what we’ve said over the years – if we’d had it we’d give it. We have it this year.”

The budget bill now moves to the Senate.

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Betsy Z. Russell covers Idaho news from The Spokesman-Review's bureau in Boise.

Named best state-based political blog in Idaho for 2013 by The Fix

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