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Public school budget passes Senate, 31-4

The Senate has voted 31-4 in favor of SB 1410, the single largest piece of the state budget: The public school budget for next year. The appropriation bill includes a 4.6 percent increase in state general funds, but just a 0.4 percent increase overall.

Sen. Nicole LeFavour, D-Boise, said, "This budget could be a lot better. ... We have a lot of money still on the table as a state." She said recent years' cuts have hit schools hard, raising class sizes and making other big changes. The budget as proposed, LeFavour argued, would "keep our schools in that same state of crisis and emergency."

Senate Finance Chairman Dean Cameron, R-Rupert, said, "This is, in my opinion, the most important budget that we pass on the Senate floor. ... It is a dramatically improved budget from the previous year." He noted that the budget would increase Idaho's minimum teacher salary, and includes a small increase in discretionary funds to school districts. "The last four years have been very difficult," Cameron said. "We're in a very fragile but improving economy."

The budget bill now moves to the House.

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Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Z. Russell joined The Spokesman-Review in 1991. She currently is a reporter in the Boise Bureau covering Idaho state government and politics, and other news from Idaho's state capital.

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