Gov. Butch Otter met with legislative leaders for 45 minutes this afternoon, and they emerged with only one thing certain: The session won’t be ending Friday, following today’s Senate defeat of the $1.3 billion public schools budget. Senate President Pro-Tem Brent Hill, R-Rexburg, told the Associated Press that there will be public hearings in the House and Senate education committees on all the disputed issues: Teacher salaries, funding for school operations and technology.
The meeting in the governor's office also included House Speaker Scott Bedke, R-Oakley; state schools Superintendent Tom Luna; Senate Education Chairman John Goedde, R-Coeur d’Alene; House Education Chairman Reed DeMordaunt, R-Eagle; Lt. Gov. Brad Little; House Appropriations Chairwoman Maxine Bell, R-Jerome; and Senate Finance Chairman Dean Cameron, R-Rupert, along with several of the governor’s staffers.
“Certainly no solution has come forward yet,” Cameron said afterward. “Obviously the two germane committee chairs are going to meet and discuss potential pieces of legislation that could come forward, and we’ll see how that works. But I’ll say it was a healthy discussion and a healthy exchange of thoughts and positions.” He added, “We had an opportunity to share some ideas as to how to move forward, but there’s still a lot of work to be done and a lot of work by the germane committees. So we wish them well and hope that they have success in doing what they want to do.”
Cameron said the Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee, under its rules, wouldn’t reconvene to consider action from germane committees until that legislation has passed at least one house. “It won't be this week,” he said. “I don't see us meeting until probably the middle of next week, and maybe that's pushing it, too, depending on how it happens.”