Senate Education Chairman John Goedde, R-Coeur d’Alene, who led the historic move in the Senate to defeat the public school budget today – after it had cleared the Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee on a 15-5 vote and passed the House 52-16 – said after the vote that he believes the germane committees in both houses, the House and Senate education committees, need to hold hearings on proposals like merit bonuses for teachers and technology pilot project grants. “I think leadership’s going to have to carve out time for that to happen,” Goedde said. “We’re here to do it the right way. … There was no public input on policy changes.”
Though the public school budget bill, HB 323, was backed by an array of interests ranging from two-thirds of JFAC to state schools Superintendent Tom Luna to the associations of school boards, administrators and teachers – and was crafted in part through long meetings mediated by House Speaker Scott Bedke – Goedde said, “I was the education chair that was not included in the grand compromise.” Goedde cited “a number of discussions, most of which in the speaker’s office,” that occurred “at the time of session that my father passed away.” He said, “I did spend 2-1/2 hours in the speaker’s office one afternoon.”
Goedde said he was confident going in to the Senate vote, though no public school budget has been defeated in either house of the Legislature in the past two decades. “I thought I had it 19-16,” he said; the vote was 18-17.
He said, “I thought there were more votes on the floor against the process than … the bill itself,” and suggested the two programs he wants committee hearings on might well win approval, though possibly with some modifications. “I support differentiated pay,” he said, “and I support technology, and pilots have worked very well in Utah.”