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Eye On Boise archive for Jan. 2010

FRIDAY, JAN. 29, 2010

Former Sen. Atwell Parry dies at 84

Former Idaho state Sen. Atwell Parry, R-Melba, passed away today after suffering injuries a one-vehicle accident on Jan. 14 that left him in critical condition. Parry, former co-chairman of the Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee, was released from St. Alphonsus Hospital on Jan. 27 to go home…

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The week that was...

Here’s a link to the third week of Idaho’s legislative session in pictures, as a slide show. Let your cursor hover over the bottom part of the picture frame, and the captions will appear as the slide show plays. Tonight, on Idaho Public Television’s "Idaho…

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Immigration bills to be heard together

Sen. Curt McKenzie, R-Nampa, chairman of the Senate State Affairs Committee, said his plan is to hold a hearing, likely in mid-February, on three immigration bills: the new one introduced today from Sen. Mike Jorgenson, R-Hayden Lake; another already introduced by Sen. John McGee, R-Caldwell,…

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Sen. Mike Jorgenson, R-Hayden Lake, proposes sweeping legislation Friday targeting employers who knowingly hire illegal immigrants; cities that offer "sanctuary" to undocumented aliens; and more. The Senate State Affairs Committee agreed unanimously to introduce the bill. (Betsy Russell)

Jorgenson unveils immigration bill 31 

Sen. Mike Jorgenson, R-Hayden Lake, this morning introduced sweeping legislation aimed at punishing Idaho employers who knowingly employ undocumented immigrants, along with other measures including denying recognition of out-of-state driver's licenses to those without legal immigration status. "The key language is 'knowingly hire,'" Jorgenson said.…

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THURSDAY, JAN. 28, 2010

Land board members mull proposal...

Here's a link to my full story at on state schools Supt. Tom Luna's proposal for education funding unveiled to lawmakers today. Tapping into the state's public school endowment earnings reserve fund for more than $50 million, as Luna proposes, would require a vote…

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Another $3 mil in savings... kind of

The co-chairs of JFAC questioned state Schools Supt. Tom Luna today about the latest numbers on student enrollment, which affect state funding. Luna's finance expert, Tim Hill, told JFAC that the number of support units, which is roughly a classroom's worth of kids, was anticipated…

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Moscow senator goes after Panhandle Health 

An Idaho lawmaker upset that regulators refuse to bend the rules for a Worley-area cabin owner with an inadequate septic system is proposing legislation that threatens to undermine the Panhandle Health District’s ability to keep sewage out of North Idaho lakes and streams. “I’m just…

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Measure would limit sessions to 90 days 

Here's a news item from the AP: BOISE, Idaho (AP) — The Idaho Legislature is considering limiting the length of sessions to just 90 calendar days to save money, conserve the time of government workers and encourage a more diverse legislature. The House State Affairs…

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Lawmakers excited about Luna plan

State lawmakers are excited about state schools Supt. Tom Luna's proposal to tap the state's school endowment earnings reserve fund for more than $50 million to help balance the school budget. "I give him credit for coming up with it," said Sen. Dean Cameron, R-Rupert,…

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Senate Finance Chairman Dean Cameron, R-Rupert, questions state schools Supt. Tom Luna on Thursday during the school budget hearing. (Betsy Russell)

Luna says he'll ask Land Board in February

In response to a question from Sen. Steve Bair, R-Blackfoot, state schools Supt. Tom Luna said the public school earnings reserve fund he wants to tap to avoid deeper school budget cuts was set up specifically to ensure payments to schools. "Remember that 10 years…

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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 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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