The House and Senate Education committees are now planning to hold a “joint listening hearing” on Feb. 1, the day of the first canceled JFAC public hearing on the state budget this year, at the request of House Speaker Scott Bedke and Senate President Pro-Tem Brent Hill. The hearing will take place, like the JFAC one would have, in the Capitol Auditorium.
“We want to invite all citizens to attend and share their thoughts on how our education system can be improved,” said Rep. Reed DeMordaunt, R-Eagle, chairman of the House Education Committee. Sen. John Goedde, R-Coeur d’Alene, added, “We believe that listening sessions like these, in conjunction with the Governor’s Task Force, can provide ideas to better educate Idaho’s students. In addition we want to encourage our citizens to attend the regularly scheduled Education Committee meetings where public testimony on proposed legislation is always appreciated.”
Legislative leaders asked JFAC to cancel its two scheduled public hearings on the state budget this year for fear of the joint budget committee getting ahead of the education committees on issues related to the voters’ rejection of Propositions 1, 2 and 3 in November, repealing state schools Supt. Tom Luna’s “Students Come First” school reform laws. Those hearings the last two years have drawn nearly 2,000 Idahoans from across the state to the Statehouse to give their input on state spending.
Bedke said legislative leaders are asking the House and Senate Health & Welfare committees to hold a similar session the following week, and others may follow. “This was always my intention,” Bedke said. “We ought to have more listening sessions in the future, not less.”