Senate Education Chairman John Goedde, R-Coeur d’Alene, is intrigued by the alternative state budget released today by former state chief economist Mike Ferguson and former state schools superintendents Jerry Evans and Marilyn Howard, along with two members of the governor's education task force. “It sounds like something I’d like to see the numbers on,” Goedde said. “It’s an interesting coalition, if Jerry Evans and Marilyn Howard are both on board.” Evans, a Republican, headed Idaho’s state school system for 16 years; Howard, a Democrat, for eight.
The alternative budget would reduce additional deposits into state rainy-day funds and eliminate a $30 million set-aside for possible tax cuts, enabling an 8.3 percent increase in public school funding next year, along with state employee and teacher raises and other moves. Goedde said he’d like to see an “impartial” review of the proposal from legislative budget analysts, but warned that he worries about federal funding to the state dropping in the future. “When that money dries up, we’ll find ourselves in a terrible mess,” he said. “Now, that doesn’t mean that we need to pour all the money into the rainy-day funds that the governor has suggested, but I just remember what it would’ve been like if we had not had a rainy-day fund in the last economic downturn, and it would’ve been disastrous.”