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Progress reported in school budget talks; new bill likely to be printed in morning to address some of the concerns

House-Senate talks over the defeated public school budget broke up around 6:30 tonight, and leaders emerged cautiously optimistic that a bill will be printed tomorrow to address some of the concerns. “We have more than modest confidence in the language,” said Senate Majority Leader Bart Davis. “We need to vet it with some additional stakeholders, and it is hoped that we will have that RS (preliminary bill) available to print tomorrow morning. If we can resolve all of the various concerns on language, and I think we have some confidence on the concepts, we just need to see how that RS will look in final form, and then get the stakeholders buy-in, then we’ll print it out of State Affairs on the Senate side and refer it to the Education Committee and have them have a public hearing.”

Davis said it’s his hope to get the draft bill to the Education Committee as soon tomorrow morning as possible, so that panel can give notice and hold a public hearing the next morning. “But right now, we’re hopeful that we are where we need to be,” he said. State schools Superintendent Tom Luna, who joined the lawmakers at the closed-door negotiations, “did a pretty darn good job in helping us all understand what’s at stake, how important this budget is to our school districts,” Davis said. “He helped us find a path forward, and we’re fortunate to have had a mostly successful meeting, and we’re quite hopeful.”

Senate Education Committee Vice Chairman Dean Mortimer, R-Idaho Falls, said as he was leaving the Capitol, “I think there will be a bill printed in the morning. I believe we’re making progress.” 


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Betsy Z. Russell covers Idaho news from The Spokesman-Review's bureau in Boise.

Named best state-based political blog in Idaho for 2013 by The Fix

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