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Eye On Boise archive for Jan. 2009

FRIDAY, JAN. 30, 2009

The week that was...

Click here to take a look at the third week of the Idaho Legislature in photos, now that it's wound down and most lawmakers have hit the road back to their districts for the weekend. Tonight on Idaho Reports, which airs at 8 p.m. on…

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More than 300 pack Little fundraiser 

Lt. Gov. Brad Little, who spoke out on statewide TV last week about how campaign fundraising during the legislative session is frowned upon and "generally" just doesn't happen, drew well over 300 people today to his campaign fundraiser, a lunch at the Rose Room that…

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Senate President Pro-Tem Bob Geddes, R-Soda Springs, asks senators to approve a resolution rejecting a scheduled pay raise for state legislators. They agreed unanimously, 33-0. (Betsy Russell / The Spokesman-Review)

It's final - no raises for lawmakers

The Senate has voted unanimously, 33-0, to pass HCR 6, the resolution to reject the scheduled 5 percent raises and mileage reimbursement boosts for state lawmakers this year. The resolution earlier passed the House unanimously; the Senate's vote today was the final action, and the…

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Volunteer firefighters from across Idaho are out in front of the Capitol Annex for two days of live fire training, using a training simulator trailer borrowed from Wendover, Nev. that simulates conditions during a house fire, and to bring their story to state lawmakers. They're backing legislation they hope will attract more Idahoans to volunteer as emergency responders, 1/30/09. (Betsy Russell / The Spokesman-Review)

Where there's smoke...

Volunteer firefighters from throughout the state are out in front of the Capitol Annex today, for two days of live fire training (starting yesterday), using a fire simulator trailer borrowed from Wendover, Nev., and a chance to tell lawmakers their story. Greg Redden, executive director…

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Libraries are 'being rediscovered'

"Library services and programs are being rediscovered," Idaho Commission for Libraries Director Ann Joslin told the Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee this morning, citing "increased library use in the current economic downturn." She said, "In fact, this is a spike in the existing 10-year growth of library…

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Juggling cuts at Historical Society

Idaho Historical Society head Janet Gallimore told lawmakers this morning that despite the governor's rejection of the agency's request to hire additional staff for fundraising, the agency felt it was so "vital" that it reorganized and reshuffled its staff to allow the appointment of a…

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Program successful, being trimmed anyway

The numbers of students enrolling in post-secondary professional-technical education programs is up, right along with the economy going down, state PTE Administrator Ann Stephens told JFAC this morning. And, she said, “PTE programs are successful. Ninety-six percent of students who completed a PTE post-secondary program…

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'We've got to stay strong'

Here's a link to my full story in today’s Spokesman-Review on the school budget cuts proposed Thursday by state Superintendent of Schools Tom Luna. Lawmakers were mostly receptive to Luna’s proposals; even local school officials said they don’t see any way to avoid some cuts.…

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THURSDAY, JAN. 29, 2009

The "Panic-Stricken Brainy Chickens," a robotics team consisting of eight fifth-graders from Post Falls, is at the Capitol Annex today as part of a presentation to lawmakers that stresses the value of math and science education. (Betsy Russell / The Spokesman-Review)

'Panic-Stricken Brainy Chickens'

Eight fifth-graders from Post Falls are taking the state Legislature by storm today, making presentations to the education committees in both houses, greeting state Supt. Tom Luna after his budget pitch, and generally livening up the Capitol Annex in their white lab coats and laboratory…

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Tom Luna, Idaho state superintendent of schools, speaks at a press conference after the public school budget hearing. Luna said his proposal for cuts in schools was "not a speech I ever wanted to make." (Betsy Russell / The Spokesman-Review)

'Not a speech I ever wanted to make'

At a press conference after his budget hearing, state Superintendent of Schools Tom Luna, asked how he thought his proposed public school cuts were received by lawmakers this morning, said, "I think they were as somber, I think, as I am. I didn't enjoy putting…

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State Schools Supt. Tom Luna answers questions from the Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee about proposed cuts to public schools, 1/29/09 (Betsy Russell / The Spokesman-Review)

Luna: Students only get one chance...

Senate Finance Chairman Dean Cameron, R-Rupert, told state schools Supt. Tom Luna he's got a "nagging feeling" that Idaho's state tax revenues still will fall further this year. "The $80 million hole may actually be a $130 million hole," he said. "My gut tells me…

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About that federal stimulus money...

Wayne Hammon, budget chief for Gov. Butch Otter, said the Otter Administration is closely watching the federal stimulus legislation. "We've been following it very closely, and there's a lot of education money in both versions of the bill," he said. Otter and Luna have been…

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Other states are worse off

State schools Supt. Tom Luna noted that other states are looking at far more drastic cuts in public education. Florida is looking at a 16 percent cut, he said. Oregon closed an elementary school and furloughed all the teachers, and is cutting P.E. and music…

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lawmakers question supt luna about proposed school budget cuts (Betsy Russell / The Spokesman-Review)

Lawmakers question Luna on cuts

JFAC members are now asking Supt. Tom Luna questions about his proposed cuts for the public school budget. The first came from JFAC Co-Chair Maxine Bell, R-Jerome, who wondered if Luna has worked with the House and Senate education committees on changes in state law…

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'No easy decisions'

Supt. Tom Luna said he hopes the cuts he's outlined won't all be necessary. "I hope during the coming weeks we can work together to find ways to reduce the cuts I've laid out." He said, "No one will agree with these ideas." But, he…

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The proposed cuts

Here are Supt. Tom Luna's proposed budget cuts for public schools: 1 - $20.8 million - Reduce discretionary funds to school districts by the amount of lottery payments and state maintenance matching funds, temporarily relieve state from match requirement for two years, and allow discretionary…

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State Supt of Schools Tom Luna outlines proposed budget cuts. (Betsy Russell / The Spokesman-Review)

Luna: 'I do not want to cut education'

"Let me make it clear - I do not want to cut education funding," state Superintendent of Schools Tom Luna told JFAC this morning. "I didn't run for this office to cut funding on public education." Nevertheless, he said, "As superintendent, I will outline prudent…

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Paul Headlee, legislative budget analyst, addresses the Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee as it begins to consider the public school budget. (Betsy Russell / The Spokesman-Review)

Shows how quickly it changed...

Legislative budget analyst Paul Headlee started things off by reviewing the budget. "The public schools request was a 5.4 percent increase, and the governor's recommendation is a 5.3 percent decrease, so that really indicates how fast the financial situation has changed," Headlee told the Joint…

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Budget hearing on public schools today

This morning is the budget hearing on public schools - the single largest piece of the state budget, and the area where controversial, unprecedented cuts are proposed next year. Gov. Butch Otter, in his budget proposal, called for cutting about $75 million, 5.34 percent, but…

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Digital conversion still up in the air

Idaho Public Television was braced for extra costs of $9,000 a month if federal authorities delayed the digital TV changeover, and no source for the funds - and then the U.S. House voted Wednesday to reject the delay. "I suspect it is not the final…

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WEDNESDAY, JAN. 28, 2009

Kindergarten bill dumped in Ways & Means

Rep. Steven Thayn's bill to pay Idaho parents for not sending their children to public kindergarten, HB 25, has been dumped unceremoniously into the House Ways & Means Committee, where it's unlikely to get a hearing. House Speaker Lawerence Denney said he made the move…

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The House Health & Welfare Committee, three hours into a second day of hearings, hears from people concerned about rule changes to implement budget cuts that reduce treatment hours for the disabled and mentally ill, 1/28/09 (Betsy Russell / The Spokesman-Review)

A somber and quiet hearing

Three hours into a second day of hearings, the House Health & Welfare Committee is still hearing difficult and wrenching stories about the impact on disabled kids and others when their treatment is reduced or cut off. This as the panel has before it rules…

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