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Senate To Consider Budget For Schools Gov. Batt’s $664 Million Proposal For Public Schools Likely To Pass

The Idaho Senate is ready to consider Republican Gov. Phil Batt’s plan for $664 million in public school support in the next budget year, which will leave little money to argue about during the 1995 session.

Batt’s proposal gives public schools about half the increase they received last year, but is still $43.5 million more than current funding.

The bill could come to a final vote in the Senate by Tuesday. Moderates and Democrats can be expected to argue for more money, but most people in the Legislature believe it will sail through both the Senate and House.

With that budget accounting for about half of all state tax revenue for the year that begins July 1, the House Revenue and Taxation Committee has been rejecting almost every tax proposal that might reduce the general fund.

On Friday, it tentatively approved legislation changing the state’s 3-percent investment tax credit, but refusing to allow business amendments that could have cost more than $2 million in tax revenue.

Legislative leaders still are predicting adjournment of the session by March 17. That would mean a session of about 70 days, which would be the Idaho Legislature’s shortest session since 1985.

With money questions virtually settled, there would appear to be little to interfere with meeting that target.

Meanwhile, a House committee ap proved legislation last week ending agriculture’s 78-year exemption from the law requiring all other employers to provide their workers with workers compensation insurance. A final House vote is scheduled Tuesday.

But the Farm Bureau Federation is waging an all-out campaign against it, and leading lawmakers predict it will have an uphill battle getting the rest of the way through a Legislature dominated by farmers and ranchers.

Batt, a longtime Wilder onion farmer, says he always voluntarily provided workers compensation coverage for his workers and he’s getting behind the bill.

Elsewhere, a resolution that was the subject of a controversial hearing last week comes up for final action in the House Resource and Conservation Committee. It proposes to amend the state Constitution to forbid citizen initiatives on wildlife or natural resources.

Sponsors say the measure was intended to head off anti-hunting initiatives like those approved in surrounding states. But opponents far outnumbered supporters at last Thursday’s hearing.

Some witnesses opposed the notion of limiting citizen initiatives, and other groups said the resolution sponsored by Speaker Simpson did not specifically protect hunting and fishing rights.

Resources and Conservation Chairman Golden Linford, R-Rexburg, said the resolution’s prospects are not good in light of all the opposition expressed at Thursday’s three-hour hearing.


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