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Eye On Boise archive for Jan. 1, 2010

THURSDAY, JAN. 28, 2010

Jason Hancock, deputy chief of staff for state schools Supt. Tom Luna, explains why Luna didn't try to tap a $25 million  backup school construction fund as part of his budget proposal for schools next year. Plummer-Worley School District has applied for $11.3 million of the money. (Betsy Russell)

$25M fund not tapped in Luna plan

Idaho has had $25 million sitting in a fund since 2006 to help school districts that absolutely can't pass school construction bonds and have met a series of qualifications. Rep. Wendy Jaquet, D-Ketchum, asked why that fund wasn't tapped to avoid further school cuts next…

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Lawmakers on the joint budget committee question state Superintendent of Schools Tom Luna on Thursday about his $135 million proposal for savings in the school budget next year, including draining some other funds and making a long list of targeted cuts. (Betsy Russell)

JFAC members question Luna about his plan

Lawmakers are now asking questions of state schools Supt. Tom Luna about his far-reaching proposal for budget savings of $135 million in the overall, all-funds public school budget next year, through a combination of new cuts and draining several other funds. Among the questions: If…

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Luna's plan for next year's school budget...

Here's Luna's proposal: Take $3.3 million from the state Department of Education's driver training account, $2.2 million from the Safe and Drug-Free Schools Account, and $52.8 million from the public school earnings reserve fund of the state endowment, for a total of $58.3 million in…

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Luna wants more endowment $$ for schools

State Superintendent of Schools Tom Luna wants to tap $52.8 million from the public schools earning reserve fund of the state endowment fund to avoid deeper budget cuts to schools. "Simply put this is a one-time drawdown of an excess reserve fund," he said, "...…

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Luna: 'We cannot hunker down and wait'

Idaho's reading initiative is another area of success, state Superintendent of Schools Tom Luna told lawmakers. The number of students reading at grade level by the end of 3rd grade has risen from 66 percent to 76 percent. "We are now seen as a national…

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State Superintendent of Schools Tom Luna tells the Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee on Thursday that Idaho school students' performance has improved in the past 10 years, but choices lawmakers make now will determine if that progress continues. (Betsy Russell)

Luna: 'Fact is our students are doing better'

State Superintendent of Schools Tom Luna opened his budget pitch by telling lawmakers that 10 years ago, under Gov. Phil Batt, Idaho began an "educational journey" toward a new, standards-based system of education, rather than an inputs-based system. The idea, he said, was to determine…

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There's a full house for the public school budget hearing in the Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee on Thursday morning. (Betsy Russell)

Full house for schools hearing

There's a full house for the public school budget hearing in JFAC this morning. The meeting also is being streamed live on the Internet and shown in a large auditorium in the Capitol's underground wing for public viewing.

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Legislative budget analyst Paul Headlee gives the opening briefing to the Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee on Tuesday morning as lawmakers hold hearings on the school budget. Gov. Butch Otter is proposing cuts. (Betsy Russell)

School budget hearings open 

To start off the budget hearing this morning on Idaho's K-12 school budget, legislative budget analyst Paul Headlee is presenting information on how other states are coping with education funding. "Likely more than 70 percent of the states have taken some actions to reduce their…

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WEDNESDAY, JAN. 27, 2010

Lawmakers leery of removing IPTV funding

Here's a link to my full story at spokesman.com on the reaction from lawmakers today to the governor's plan to phase out state funding for Idaho Public Television over the next four years. "I just don't see this committee doing that," said Sen. Dean Cameron,…

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Sen. Gary Schroeder, R-Moscow, is chairman of the House Resources Committee. On Wednesday, he proposed legislation in the committee to make the state Board of Parks & Recreation advisory and let the governor, rather than the board, hire and fire the  state parks director. Schroeder said he hopes the bill doesn't have to advance, but he was sending a message to the parks board to let the director make major management changes. (Betsy Russell)

Senate bill goes after state Parks Board 

The Senate Resources Committee has voted unanimously to introduce legislation from Sen. Gary Schroeder, R-Moscow, to make the state Board of Parks and Recreation advisory, and let the governor appoint the state parks director. The board now hires the director. Schroeder, the committee's chairman, said…

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House Minority Caucus Chair Bill Killen, D-Boise, speaks at a Democratic press conference on Wednesday at which House and Senate Democrats unveiled a six-bill jobs plan. (Betsy Russell)

Dems unveil jobs plan

House and Senate Democrats held a press conference today to unveil a six-bill jobs package that includes fast-tracking renewable energy projects; setting up a new "jobs council" under the governor's office; providing state help to expanding small businesses; offering a tax credit for venture capital…

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Why they can't just put on commercials... 

Sen. Jeff Siddoway, R-Terreton, asked IPTV head Peter Morrill, "Could you just do regular commercial advertisements like any other television station?" Morrill noted that IPTV raises more private money than many of its peer networks. But, he said, "Idaho Public Television is licensed by the…

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Sen. Brackett asks if he can go on TV 

Sen. Bert Brackett, R-Rogerson, asked IPTV General Manager Peter Morrill if he'd be allowed to come on IPTV to advocate for or against funding. "We really haven't produced any TV programs about the funding issue for Idaho Public Television," Morrill responded. "If we were to…

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CSI: 'We've cut to the bare bones'

The College of Southern Idaho in Twin Falls supported formation of the College of Western Idaho in the Treasure Valley, CSI President Jerry Beck told lawmakers, but it did cost CSI money - it's no longer billing Ada and County counties for tuition for students…

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Slicing the budget pie...

Sen. Dean Cameron, R-Rupert, asked North Idaho College President Priscilla Bell about her support for a proposed $1.047 million additional allocation to College of Western Idaho next year for its enrollment growth. "I want to gauge your level of support - are you willing to…

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Rep. Cliff Bayer, R-Boise, right, and Sen. John Goedde, R-Coeur d'Alene, left, present the report of the Legislature's joint revenue committee to legislative budget writers on Wednesday. JFAC accepted the report, but not the numbers - making no commitment as to what figures it'll use to set the state budget. By the time the budget panel starts setting budgets in late February, the state may have more revenue figures from January that aren't yet available. (Betsy Russell)

JFAC accepts revenue report, not numbers

The Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee has received the report and recommendation from the Joint Economic Outlook & Revenue Assessment Committee, and voted unanimously to accept the report - which doesn't mean it's accepting that panel's numbers for the state budget. "The process this morning is for…

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TUESDAY, JAN. 26, 2010

Report: Idaho should replace its worst prisons

Idaho should start planning now to replace the state's most outdated, inefficient, hard-to-staff and expensive-to-run prisons, a new report from the Legislature Office of Performance Evaluations found today, a move that would yield big long-term savings and set the state up to better manage the…

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GOP congressional candidate Vaughn Ward kicks off an 18-stop official announcement tour of the 1st Congressional District with a Statehouse press conference on Tuesday. Ward faces state Rep. Raul Labrador in the GOP contest for a chance to challenge Democratic Congressman Walt Minnick. (Betsy Russell)

Ward launches 18-stop tour of state 

GOP congressional candidate Vaughn Ward was enthusiastically endorsed by former Idaho Gov. Dirk Kempthorne, state Superintendent of Schools Tom Luna, former state Board of Education President Milford Terrell and Canyon County Prosecutor John Bujak at a Statehouse press conference on Tuesday as he kicked off…

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