Here’s a link to my full story at spokesman.com on today’s public school budget-setting, under which Idaho would restore a series of cuts to state teacher salary funds made over the past three years that have caused a budget crunch in local school districts. Five Republicans on the joint committee opposed the move, but a bipartisan group of lawmakers from both houses backed the successful $1.3 billion budget plan, which passed on a 15-5 vote.
The budget shows just a 2.2 percent increase from this year in state funding, and 2 percent in total funding. Gov. Butch Otter had recommended a 2 percent boost; state schools Superintendent Tom Luna had called for 3 percent. But Luna praised the spending plan. “This is a responsible budget that works to meet the needs of our students across the state,” he said. The budget still needs approval from both houses and the governor’s signature to become law, but budgets rarely change once they’re set by the 20-member joint committee.