Here’s a link to my full story at spokesman.com on today’s public school budget hearing; Idaho’s schools, hard-hit by budget cuts during years of economic downturn, would see a 5.1 percent boost in funding next year, under a budget plan pitched to lawmakers Thursday by state schools chief Tom Luna. Luna’s proposed $66.9 million increase for schools is well above the 2.9 percent, $37 million increase Gov. Butch Otter has recommended. And unlike Otter, Luna’s calling for modest raises for teachers next year – Otter recommended none.
“He laid out a blueprint that will give us something to work with,” said Sen. Dean Cameron, R-Rupert, co-chairman of the Legislature’s joint budget committee. Said Rep. Maxine Bell, R-Jerome, the House co-chair of the panel, “It’s a slow road back.” Even with the increase, Luna’s $1.37 billion proposed budget for Idaho schools for next year falls below the 2009 level of $1.42 billion – it’s $50.8 million less.