Rep. Maxine Bell, R-Jerome, co-chairwoman of the Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee, had this response to Rep. Cliff Bayer’s earlier question about whether it’s time to cut faculty salaries at Idaho’s state colleges and universities. “For one thing, that isn’t our place to begin with - we don’t have that responsibility,” she said. Lawmakers parcel out the salary money in a lump sum to the state Board of Education, which distributes it to the colleges. Besides, she said, “We live in a time where each state around us has a little bit more ability to pay a little better.” Because of that, she said. “We’ve lost very good people.” In recent years, lawmakers and several governors have focused instead on increasing faculty salaries at Idaho colleges and universities to avoid having top faculty lured away to other states. Said Bell, “I think there are many, many ways they’re going to have to look at the budget before they cut faculty salaries. I would think that we would be shooting ourselves in the foot.” And if anyone were to make such a move, she said, “That would be a state board directive, and I don’t think they’d want to do it.”
Betsy Z. Russell covers Idaho news from The Spokesman-Review's bureau in Boise.
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