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Eye On Boise

Tue., March 27, 2012, 8:20 a.m.

Nonini: Teacher pay compromise part of end-of-session negotiations

Rep. Bob Nonini, R-Coeur d'Alene, said the compromise bill on teacher pay introduced in his committee this morning was negotiated "above my pay grade" by leadership. "Most of that compromise I think was worked out between House leadership and Senate leadership and the gentleman on the second floor (the governor)," Nonini said. "I was willing to compromise the whole time."

However, he said key senators haven't yet signed off on a central paragraph in the bill, which reads, "For fiscal year 2014, any increased state funds appropriated for the educational support program, above the amount appropriated for fiscal year 2013, shall be directed pursuant to the provisions of sections 33-1004i (pay for performance), 33-1022 (technology), 33-1626 (dual credit for early completers) and 33-1627 (one-to-one laptops; all those sections are from the "Students Come First" laws), Idaho Code, and also for costs associated with any increase in the number of support units, prior to the funding of any other increases in the educational support program."

Nonini estimated that his bill commits $34.7 million in general funds to specific items in the school budget over the next five years, allowing an argument that there's a 35-35-35 deal: $35 million for tax cuts next year, $35 million for state rainy-day funds, and $35 million for education.

That doesn't include the bill's provision that whenever Idaho's base teacher salary for all levels is increased, the minimum teacher salary must rise by twice the percentage increase, rather than the current 1.5 percent; no base teacher salary increase is being funded for next year, though the public school budget that passed the Senate does include a boost in the minimum salary, from the current 30,000 to $30,500 a year. "We're hearing that teachers don't want to come to Idaho because our starting pay's so low," Nonini said. "We need to be competitive."

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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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