Today, the chairs of germane committees in both houses are beginning their presentations of recommendations to JFAC as the joint committee prepares to begin setting state agency budgets. First up this morning were the chairmen of the Senate and House education committees.
JFAC Co-Chair Dean Cameron, R-Rupert, asked Senate Education Chairman John Goedde, R-Coeur d’Alene, about funding levels for public schools for next year. “The governor’s proposal is for a 2 percent increase to public schools; that’s in line with his 3 percent budget,” Cameron said. “The superintendent proposed a 3 percent increase to public schools, about $13 million more, which doesn’t fit in with the 3 percent budget, unless we can somehow magically find $13 million in some other place. Did the committee or do you have a personal feeling as to which direction you would like to see this committee head?”
Goedde responded, “I don’t think there was anybody on the committee who would say we need less money for education. There are ways to spend 3 percent very effectively. And we did not focus on the revenue side, we only focused on the expenditure side.”
To the same question, House Education Chairman Reed DeMordaunt, R-Eagle, responded, “We really did not focus on the revenue aspect. It was more of a discussion on the concepts, programs and ideas.” DeMordaunt called for pilot programs in technology at Idaho schools, with proposals from school districts to be reviewed by the state Department of Education; and also called for eliminating an early-retirement incentive program for teachers. “This has been ineffective, it has not achieved the desired results,” he said. Both called for the $33.9 million tabbed in both the governor’s and superintendent’s budget proposals to stay in the school budget, for such uses as professional development for the new Common Core standards; DeMordaunt also suggested using part of that for teacher pay for performance at the direction of local school districts.
Goedde called for funding improvements in administrative evaluation of teachers, and said, “Technology money needs to be sent to districts, for computer devices, wireless networks and professional development.”
The two committee chairmen hosted two open “listening sessions” in the Capitol Auditorium in the past few weeks on education issues that drew hundreds of people, and much testimony focusing on shortfalls in funding for charter schools and traditional Idaho school districts, and opposition to reviving labor provisions from voter-rejected Proposition 1, some of which are now pending in both committees. Though both weighed in on their committee’s views on a series of budget lines from the superintendent’s proposed budget, neither chairman mentioned the testimony in his presentation to JFAC.