As the House debated the public school budget today, there was lots of back-and-forth about the budget plan’s 3 percent raises for school employees, as opposed to the 5 percent merit-pay increase state agency employees are getting, reports S-R reporter Parker Howell. House Education Committee Chairman Bob Nonini, R-Coeur d'Alene, who sells health insurance, suggested paying teachers on commission. "If I want to go make more money, I have to work a little harder," he said. While Nonini said he knows "we can't get government to work like business every time," lawmakers can try, he said. "Maybe we need to upset the apple cart and wake some people up."
Rep. Marv Hagedorn, R-Meridian, argued that his son makes only $26,000 a year while stationed in Iraq by the military. "There's no question our teachers are very, very important to us," he said. "We've got to build in the flexibility to either have them paid on merit or have them accept the fact that they're going to be paid on a percentage of the scale." Hagedorn said lawmakers have "not been allowed by unions and by others" to create that flexibility. But Rep. Nicole LeFavour, D-Boise, a former teacher, took issue with Hagedorn's comparison. "It makes it no less acceptable that we pay our military such … a small amount of pay. But to justify teacher pay based on how poorly we pay our military is really, really sad," she said.