Retired state chief economist Mike Ferguson and former state schools superintendents Jerry Evans and Marilyn Howard are giving a presentation on Idaho school funding in the Lincoln Auditorium this evening; you can watch live here (click on “Lincoln Auditorium”). There are lots of school trustees in the audience. “We can, as citizens of Idaho, as voting citizens of Idaho, demand better,” Howard told the audience.
Ferguson detailed his proposed alternative state budget, which would reprioritize funds to increase school funding, grant 4 percent raises to state and school employees, and restore cuts to Medicaid services, all with the same revenue. It would put $71.5 million more into public schools next year than Gov. Butch Otter's budget proposal. “There is more than sufficient resources to address these things,” Ferguson said. "What we’ve got is a very, very high priority on reserves, and a very low priority on funding public services. … There is $103.5 million of ongoing fiscal capacity being left unspent in the fiscal year 2015 executive budget. Now, if we take out the $30 million for unspecified tax cuts, that actually grows to 133.5 million."
Ferguson said Idaho has been cutting its state revenue stream, at the same time it saw a decreasing share of its resources go toward school funding and the state's economic performance fall to among the worst in the nation.