Sen. Branden Durst, D-Boise, said of his bonding plan for charter schools, “It gives them access to a fund that would create a low-interest loan. …We could talk about a large enough sum of money to actually be able to purchase a building or to build a school.” He said, “The legislation as it’s currently drafted wouldn’t provide that. … It would simply give a small sum of money. … It really solves the problem.” Durst proposed his plan as an amendment to HB 206, the House-passed charter school facilities funding bill.
Sen. John Goedde, R-Coeur d’Alene, debated against Durst’s amendment. “Currently 24 charter schools in this state lease or rent buildings. That is because they can’t afford to buy buildings,” he told the Senate. “While a loan fund may help them buy buildings, I would submit, with the limited funding that they have, how are they going to repay a loan to the revolving loan account any easier than they are to a bank? It may help a few charters, but it certainly won’t help the bulk.”
Durst said the schools could spend the amounts they’re now spending for lease payments instead on bond payments to get their own buildings. “If we’re really trying to solve the problem instead of throw some money at it, then let’s actually make the investment in these charter schools.”
The Senate then voted on Sen. Dean Mortimer’s amendment, which was in conflict with Durst’s – and it passed on a near-party-line vote, with only a handful of Republicans joining all Senate Democrats in opposing it. That meant Mortimer’s amendment will be added to the bill, and Durst’s was lost.