The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Bob Nonini, was a no-show, and the Senate Education Committee has killed his bill, HB 373. “I find it deplorable in many ways that Rep. Nonini would bring this forward, considering the circumstances that exist here,” said Sen. Dick Sagness, D-Poctello. “It’s a waste of our time and the taxpayers’ money.” The only difference between that bill and bills that either have already passed both houses, or are pending in the Senate, is that HB 373 again seeks to phase out an early retirement incentive program for teachers - which the Senate already has specifically rejected and the House concurred with that - and there’s no “sunset,” or expiration, for a move into funding more “virtual” or online education in public schools.
Sen. John Andreason, R-Boise, said, “I’m still not convinced that eliminating the early retirement program is going to save $2 million this year. The program, when it was set up, showed a savings of $8 million to $10 million a year, and I haven’t seen any data that disputes that.” Sen. Kate Kelly, D-Boise, decried “a process that seems to have us addressing bill after bill … that are duplicative.”
Jason Hancock of the state Department of Education presented the bill in Nonin’s stead. Sen. Chuck Winder, R-Boise, asked, “A way back, the Senate amended HB 256 and 262,” the House concurred in those amendments and voted in favor of the bills. “Now it appears that they’re trying to cherry-pick what they wanted, vs. what we wanted.” Committee Chairman John Goedde, R-Coeur d’Alene, said Hancock couldn’t really address that. “The sponsor of the bill is not with us today,” Goedde said. “Why isn’t the sponsor here?” Kelly asked. “That’s a good question, Sen. Kelly,” Goedde responded. Only two committee members, Sens. Russ Fulcher and Monty Pearce, voted against the motion to hold the bill in committee, which passed on a voice vote; neither asked to be recorded as voting no.