Eye On Boise

WEDNESDAY, FEB. 15, 2012, 9:04 A.M.

Bill would change ‘Students Come First’ law to remove teacher salary cuts

Sen. Dean Cameron presents legislation to the Senate Finance Committee on Wednesday to remove the required teacher salary cuts from the 'Students Come First
Sen. Dean Cameron presents legislation to the Senate Finance Committee on Wednesday to remove the required teacher salary cuts from the 'Students Come First" school reform law. The cuts are designed to fund technology boosts and performance-pay bonuses; Cameron's bill would force the Legislature to find other funding for those. (Betsy Russell)

A rare meeting of the Senate Finance Committee - the Senate half of the Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee - convened this morning to consider a bill proposed by Senate Finance Chairman Dean Cameron, R-Rupert, to make a significant change to the "Students Come First" school reform laws. The bill would eliminate the law's requirement that salary-based apportionment, the state funding source for teacher salaries, be permanently reduced by set percentages each year for six years, to fund technology boosts and a teacher merit-pay bonus plan.

The bill wouldn't remove this year's reduction of 1.67 percent - $14.8 million - in the salary funds. "But all future reductions or increases in reductions are removed," Cameron told the Senate Finance Committee. "Should this bill pass, it forces the responsibility on us (JFAC) to find the funding to pay for performance and for technology moving forward, rather than us finding funding to backfill reductions in salary-based apportionment," he said. "From my perspective, the motives for bringing this forward are to clean up what I thought was an inappropriate step, and ... that we budget for items that are approved by this Legislature and that we not do it through salary-based reduction."

Cameron is co-sponsoring the bill with Senate Education Chairman John Goedde, R-Coeur d'Alene; Senate Finance Vice-Chair Shawn Keough, R-Sandpoint; and 15 other Republican senators, including Senate President Pro-Tem Brent Hill, R-Rexburg.

The Finance Committee voted unanimously to introduce the bill; Cameron said it'll go to the Education Committee for a full hearing.




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Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Russell covers Idaho news from the state capitol in Boise and writes the Eye on Boise blog.

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