Here’s a link to my full story at spokesman.com on how Idaho lawmakers adjourned their legislative session today after 88 days, running nearly a week longer than planned amid a deadlock in the Senate over the budget for public schools. In the end, the budget that passed both houses Thursday morning – with a 29-5 vote in the Senate and 57-11 in the House – was identical to the original one, giving schools a 2.2 percent boost in state funding next year to $1.3 billion. But rancor remained over the direction of education policy in Idaho; in November, voters repealed the “Students Come First” school reform laws that lawmakers had enacted in 2011 with a historic referendum vote.
An interim committee of legislators and a panel of education stakeholders organized by Gov. Butch Otter both will examine education issues and hold hearings around the state this summer. Meanwhile, the final bill to come up in this year’s legislative session was one of a slew of proposals from the Idaho School Boards Association to revive various pieces of Proposition 1, the voter-rejected measure that sought to roll back teachers’ collective bargaining rights. The bill, SB 1040a, lets school districts reduce teacher salaries from one year to the next, something Idaho law now prohibits; the House debate lasted nearly an hour. Finally, it passed on a 47-21 vote and headed to the governor’s desk.