When the House briefly went at ease this morning because the Internet had gone down, preventing members from viewing bills, Rep. Ron Nate, R-Rexburg, was heard on an open mike saying, “We all know our districts. We know that there are some teachers that are clearly overpaid.”
Nate has been objecting to various budget bills by making the argument that each amount could have been spent on teachers instead, to add more teachers or pay them more. On the previous bill, HB 262, which added $2 million for college and career counseling in Idaho’s public schools next year, Nate had told the House, “I stand to debate against the bill. It’s not just a redistribution, it’s adding $2 million to that spending item, which is a 40 percent increase. And while it’s going to schools for college and career advising, we still have the teacher problem, that if we were able to pay our teachers more, especially in the areas of science and math, we’d be able to attract and retain the good teachers that we have in Idaho.”
Nate told the House that by his calculations, Idaho could have added 53 new teachers instead of increasing college and career counseling.
Asked by the Associated Press about his comments on the House’s live stream about teachers being overpaid, Nate said he didn’t remember making the comment.
Later, he told Eye on Boise, "I think you're crossing the line into dishonest reporting," because "the whole tenor of the conversation was we need to pay teachers more." Nate's comment was clearly audible on the House live stream; the full conversation, in which he was speaking animatedly with Rep. GayAnn DeMordaunt, R-Eagle, about school funding and the teacher career ladder, wasn't. "If I did say it, I either misspoke or I was leading to another point," Nate said. "My perception of the teachers in my district is they're all stellar. I've had good experiences with my teachers in my district." You can read my full story here at spokesman.com.