The Senate has passed the remaining pieces of the public school budget – a key move toward finishing up the legislative session. The bills still need House approval and the governor’s signature to become law. Objections to the budgets came from a handful of senators, mainly Democrats, who objected that school employees are being given 3 percent for salary increases, while state employees, throughout state agency budgets, were given 5 percent for merit increases. Moscow Republican Gary Schroeder told the Senate, “We provided a 5 percent salary increase for other state employees doing secretarial work. For secretaries in school districts, we only provided 3 percent.” They’ll want to know why, he said. Sen. Shawn Keough, R-Sandpoint, said, “The reality is that teachers are on a different pay system than state employees. … You cannot compare the two systems.” The bills now move to the House.