Latest from The Spokesman-Review
Idaho state tax revenues came in $10 million below projections in October, for a year-to-date $6.9 million below forecast, a 0.8 percent lag. After accounting for amounts the Legislature must reimburse deficiency accounts for fires, pests and hazardous material incidents, the state now looks on track to end the fiscal year with a $30.1 million balance, $25.7 million more than was anticipated when the legislative session adjourned last spring. You can read the DFM's general fund revenue report for October here, and the Legislature's General Fund Budget Monitor here; both look at the impact of the October numbers. In a few minutes, the Legislative Council will hear a state budget update from Cathy Holland-Smith, manager of budget and policy analysis.
The Legislative Council, the Legislature's leadership group that meets outside the legislative session, is gathered in the House Majority Caucus Room this morning; so far, it's heard reports on interim committees and task forces and discussed training sessions planned for new legislators this year - there are 33 out of 105. Plans include extensive new ethics training. Next up: A report from the Idaho Attorney General's office and legislative staff on the impact of voters' rejection of Propositions 1, 2 and 3, the school reform referenda.
I'll be on Idaho Public TV's “Dialogue” program tomorrow night, along with Greg Hahn, Gary Moncrief, and host Marcia Franklin, to discuss the election results. Among them: I've been looking at how we ended up with the exact same party split in the Legislature as before the election, 28 Republicans and 7 Democrats in the Senate, and 57 Republicans and 13 Democrats in the House.
Here's how: The Democrats picked up one seat in the House when Janie Ward-Engelking beat Julie Ellsworth. But that was offset by the Republicans' pickup of retiring Rep. Wendy Jaquet's seat in District 26, which was narrowly won by Steve Miller.
In the Senate, the Dems had a pickup when Branden Durst beat Sen. Mitch Toryanski, R-Boise. But the election of Rep. Jim Guthrie, R-McCammon, to the seat formerly held by Sen. Diane Bilyeu, D-Pocatello, was a pickup for the Republicans, offsetting the other one.
Dialogue airs Friday at 8 p.m.; there's more info here.
Here's a link to my full day-after-the-election story at spokesman.com, on how after Idaho voters decisively rejected the “Students Come First” school reform laws on Tuesday, leaders on both sides were calling today for a new start on education reforms in Idaho, with all the stakeholders at the table.
House Speaker Lawerence Denney, R-Midvale, told Idaho Statesman columnist Dan Popkey today that he's planning to “aggressively” campaign for another term as speaker - though popular Assistant majority Leader Scott Bedke, R-Oakley, also is seeking the post. “The game is on,” Denney said. “We know the players.” The campaigning starts Sunday at the Legislature's North Idaho tour, which runs through Tuesday in Lewiston and Moscow and which nearly all lawmakers are expected to attend; you can read Popkey's full post here.
Idaho 1st District Congressman Raul Labrador has released a statement thanking supporters for his “resounding victory” in yesterday's election. “After the results of the national election, I know we are all wondering what to expect for America’s future,” he writes. “Well, you and I both know that the big problems we face will require bold actions and strong leadership. You can count on me to provide that leadership and to continue to fight for you and fight your family.”
Idaho Gov. Butch Otter spoke with reporters this afternoon about the election results, and he said the call from “Students Come First” opponents to begin new talks with all stakeholders about school reform is “exactly what I want to do.”
“I think the interest that was shown on both sides, and what we heard on both sides, gives us a good opportunity to start developing, with everybody, a concurrent plan that we can go forward with,” Otter said. “I think everybody does realize, whether they voted for or against the propositions, that our old education system is simply not working. We're not graduating students in many cases that are ready for college, not ready for the wonderful world of work or careers. … I talked to some of the leadership this morning and we're prepared to sit down and find a path forward with all of the stakeholders.”
Otter said he'd be opposed to trying to just re-pass the same laws the voters have rejected. “That isn't a course that I think is positive, that isn't a course that I think would be productive,” he said. “I do think what we need to do is take each prop, each idea of reform, and sit down and say, 'What did you like about it? What didn't you like about it? If you had a chance to change it, how would you change it?' And those things that we can agree on, and each and every one of those … is what we ought to go forward with.”
Unlike Otter, Luna didn't talk to the press today. Asked about Luna's sentiments, Otter said, “I sense that he believes this is a new beginning on education reform, and that we're going to have to go forward.”
The governor said, “There is something we ought to be celebrating today, and that is the big turnout that we had in Idaho. … But we also need to celebrate the independence of the Idaho voter. The Idaho voter isn't going to be led anyplace without some rational thought on their own, without some investigation on their own. I have been the benefactor of that, and in some cases I haven't benefited so much from it. But I still love the independence, and I celebrate their independence today.”
He added, “I want to concentrate right now on the path forward. I want to vet that through the (legislative) leadership, say what can we accomplish, and how quick can we accomplish that, and who do we have to have in the room to accomplish it.”
1st Congressional District Democratic candidate Jimmy Farris, who polled 30.8 percent to GOP Rep. Raul Labrador's 63 percent in the final, unofficial results, has released this statement:
“I want to thank the many people who put their faith in me and honored me with their vote. Their support was invaluable and I look forward to adding to their numbers in the next campaign. Running a campaign is not an easy task, but this was just the beginning. We learned a great deal and made major inroads this time around, and we are ready to continue building on what we started. Next time we have to work harder and smarter – it’s going to be a challenge, but we will not turn back now.
“We still need to end the gridlock and division that has crippled Congress. We brought a lot of issues to the forefront in this campaign, and when Congressman Labrador returns to Washington, we will be watching to make sure he is doing his job. “I am committed to devoting myself to public service and to giving the First District the representation it deserves. Our next journey starts today. We are headed full steam ahead towards a victory in 2014.”
I've had several inquiries from readers concerned that now that voters have rejected Proposition 3, that the state would face costs related to the now-canceled $182 million laptop contract with Hewlett-Packard. I can verify that according to H-P's Business and Scope of Work Proposal, which is included in the contract as Exhibit D, the state is not required to make any payments.
Bidders were asked to outline early termination costs if Prop 3 didn't pass. H-P said the cost would be zero, as its period of performance for the contract wouldn't begin until the day after the election. It's in Exhibit D on page 102-3; you can read those two pages here. It says, “With a projected start date after November 6, HP anticipates that there will be no lease funding necessary as no notebook units would have shipped or have been accepted prior to the Proposition 3 ballot in November 2012. Hewlett-Packard will not fund any Lease Schedule under the Master Agreement until and unless Proposition 3 has been approved by Idaho voters in November, 2012.”
Marc Johnson's “The Johnson Post” offers five takeaways from yesterday's election, including a dose of Idaho historical perspective, some demographics, impacts for the two senior members of the state's congressional delegation, and how the election leaves Idaho balanced on its own “cliff,” this one involving health insurance. You can read it here. Johnson calls yesterday “a truly historic day,” saying, “This one will be hashed over for years.”
Idaho Gov. Butch Otter issued this statement today on the voters' rejection of Propositions 1, 2, and 3, the “Students Come First” school reform measures:
“The people have spoken, so I’m not discouraged. That’s how our system works. But it’s important to remember that the public conversation that began almost two years ago isn’t over – it’s only begun. Our workforce, our communities and most of all our students still deserve better, and our resources are still limited. We offered these reforms not because we sought change for change’s sake, but because change is needed to afford our young people the opportunities they deserve now and for decades to come. That’s as true today as it was yesterday, so our work for a brighter and better future continues.”
Mike Lanza, a Boise father of two who chaired the “No on Props 1,2,3” campaign, said today, “I first got involved in this effort because I have a couple of elementary kids and that was my entire motivation for getting involved. … This election was not a vote against better schools, quite to the contrary. This outcome was a statement by voters that we care very deeply about Idaho's public schools.” He said, “Let's be clear about the mandate from voters,” listing five points:
* “Idaho's voters believe in local control of public schools and reject any top-down, one-size-fits-all mandates from the state.”
* “We believe that every student deserves to have an excellent teacher, and reject the notion of cutting teachers and increasing class sizes in order to pay for unproven technological education fixes.”
* “We believe in the fundamental fairness of a collaborative benefit for everyone of giving our teachers a full voice in how our schools are managed, through the local negotiations process, including on matters beyond pay and benefits.”
* “We believe we should invest in the classroom and reject the idea than an unfunded and unproven merit pay plan can improve student achievement.”
* “And we believe that all stakeholders in education should be brought to the table to engage in a real and an honest process of figuring out how to improve Idaho's public schools.”
Said Lanza, “Most of all in this election, voters said overwhelmingly our elected leaders must be held accountable to the public.” At that point, he was interrupted by applause. “We want to sit down with our elected leaders, and that includes Supt. Luna,” Lanza said, “and begin the hard work that is required to forge real education reform.”
Maria Greeley, a Boise mom and co-founder of the campaign with Lanza, said, “The Luna laws were divisive and destructive, but there is a positive outcome. We have learned how important it is for all citizens to remain engaged in education. We know what we don't want, and by contrast, we have learned what we do want. We want transparency. We want collaboration. We want politics kept out of education. We want the input from our educators. We want our locally elected school boards to determine what is best for each district. And we want to know that our teachers are valued. It is now time to start healing and moving forward.”
Leaders of the successful campaign to overturn state schools Superintendent Tom Luna's “Students Come First” school reform laws gathered in front of Boise High School today to talk about what's next. “This debate has never been about union control of schools,” said Penni Cyr, president of the Idaho Education Association, and also a mother of four and 28-year teacher in the Moscow School District. “This debate has been about what's best for the students, educators and Idaho's public schools.” She added, “Now that the voters have spoken, it's up to us, the adults, to model … for our students how grownups with diverse views can come together and put their differences aside and go forward. … I urge lawmakers and other elected leaders and policy makers to meet us at the table, to begin the conversation about what is best for Idaho's students and Idaho's schools. We believe that together we can be a model of reform for the nation.”
After all three of his “Students Come First” school reform measures were soundly defeated by Idaho voters yesterday, state schools Superintendent Tom Luna issued this statement this morning:
“I still believe that Idahoans want better schools through education reform. I still believe that empowering local school boards, phasing out tenure, giving parents input on evaluations, helping students take dual credit, paying teachers for more than just years of experience and amount of education, and making sure every classroom is a 21st Century Classroom are critical if we want an education system that meets the needs of every child. We have now had a 22-month discussion about what this should look like. I understand Idahoans have expressed concerns, yet I do not believe any Idahoan wants to go back to the status quo system we had two years ago. I am as committed as anyone to finding a way to make this happen. We must find a way because our children’s future is at stake.”
Tuesday's vote was about 78 percent in favor of H.J.R. 2aa - The Right to hunt, fish and trap measure.
While the intent seems sincere from a sportsman's perspective, one always must consider the legal ramifications of a constitutional amendment. There's some concern this measure may have consequences for wildlife habitat – and therefore to hunters and anglers — down the line.
The issue has been pointed out in this Idaho Statesman column by Rocky Barker — http://www.idahostatesman.com/2012/10/28/2326090/right-to-hunt-fish-trap-goes-to.html.
Also before the election, a retired Idaho Fish and Game Department fisheries biologist expressed his concerns here.
With 93 percent of the vote counted, all three “Students Come First” school reform measures are being soundly defeated. That means the laws passed amid much controversy in 2011 are repealed. Here's where they stand:
Proposition 1: 42.8% yes, 57.2% no
Proposition 2: 42.1 percent yes, 57.9 percent no
Proposition 3: 33.4 percent yes, 66.6 percent no
Idaho's dominant Republican establishment appeared headed for a rare rebuke from voters Tuesday, as school-reform measures pushed hard by state schools Superintendent Tom Luna and GOP Gov. Butch Otter trailed at the polls at press time. The three measures, Propositions 1, 2 and 3, became the hottest election issue in Idaho this year, eclipsing even the presidential race - which was a foregone conclusion for Idaho's four electoral votes in the heavily GOP state that strongly favored Mitt Romney.
Luna called the measures “by far the most important choice on education that many of us will make in our lifetime,” and Otter called them “very important.” On election night, Otter told The Spokesman-Review, “We'll go back, get our heads together in the Legislature, and see where we go from there.” You can read my full story here at spokesman.com.
With 20 percent of the vote counted, all three school reform referendum measures continue to trail, with Proposition 3, the technology measure, faring the worst, losing 64.1 to 35.9 percent. Here's the current tally:
Proposition 1: 45.3 percent yes, 54.7 percent no
Proposition 2: 44.5 percent yes, 55.5 percent no
Proposition 3: 35.9 percent yes, 64.1 percent no
Opponents of the “Students Come First” school reform measures are celebrating at their own election-night party at the Red Lion Downtowner hotel. The early numbers show a win for the opponents.
“If we pull this off, it's going to be an affirmation of what we've believed since the 2011 session,” said Mike Lanza, chairman of the “Vote No on Props 1,2,3” campaign, shown here discussing the latest results with Boise City Councilwoman Lauren McLean. “The public didn't buy any of the case that Superintendent Luna made for these laws,” Lanza said, “and didn't trust that they were best for our schools.”
A Boise father who hadn't been active in politics before the referendum campaign, Lanza said, “We'll be ready to bring everybody together and have a real and honest conversation about what our schools need and how we can make them better. It has to be based on hard data and things that really work, and not just ideology and things that sound good to some people.”
The very first smattering of election results has come in, and with just 9 of 967 precincts reporting, all three “Students Come First” school reform propositions are trailing. The early tally:
Proposition 1: 46.1% yes, 53.9% no
Proposition 2: 44% yes, 56% no
Proposition 3: 35.1% yes, 64.4% no