Here’s a link to my full story at spokesman.com on how Idaho lawmakers wrote a new public schools budget today, one that’s virtually identical to the $1.3 billion spending plan that was rejected by one vote in the Senate last week, but this budget was the result of a different process – including a public hearing early Wednesday morning before the joint House and Senate Education committees – and Senate Education Chairman John Goedde, R-Coeur d’Alene, who led the move to kill the budget in the Senate last week, said it was a better one. “From what I know at this point, I plan on voting for the budget,” Goedde said late Wednesday. “I don’t have any huge arguments with what’s been moving forward.”
Goedde said he liked tweaks the education committees made to the wording in SB 1199, the bill they passed and that lawmakers sent to the governor today; he also appreciated clarification that the $21 million for teacher merit bonuses and professional development and the $3 million for technology pilot project grants were one-time money. Though there’s no change in how those funds are handled in the new version of the budget, it more specifically calls out the one-time nature of those two appropriations.
Rep. Shirley Ringo, D-Moscow, supported the original school budget this year, HB 323, and also supported the new version in JFAC today. “I don’t think there’s really much of substance that’s different,” she said. “I think it was kind of an expensive exercise.”
The emergence of the new school budget from the Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee puts the Legislature on track to adjourn on Thursday. Predicted Goedde, “We’re out by noon.”