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Eye On Boise

‘Soften the blow’

Idaho school districts will receive sharply increased funding from the federal government for special education through the IDEA program under the federal stimulus - offsetting some of the districts' own local funds they've been putting into the federally required programs. Under questioning from Sen. Jim Hammond, R-Post Falls, the governor's budget director, Wayne Hammon, said, "It will relieve pressure in the local district so they can ... soften the blow of the reduction in state funds." However, he said, the governor is urging districts not to commit that money to ongoing needs, like salaries, out of fear that the federal boost may not last beyond two years. The Obama Administration has said it wants this to be the new permanent funding level for IDEA, but Otter told Eye on Boise on Tuesday, "I don't believe it." He added, "I'd be happy. And we're not burning any bridges, so in two years if we figure that out, great, take that other 20 percent that they haven't been giving us, then we can convert that to improving classroom teachers by paying 'em more." But for now, he said, he's skeptical.

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Eye On Boise

News, happenings and more from the Idaho Legislature and the state capital.