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Eye On Boise

Debate: ‘Reform or status quo,’ ‘Can do better,’ ‘Just cruel,’ ‘Debating policy’

Rep. Brent Crane, R-Nampa, told the House, "We have two choices: We can either reform our current educational system or we can accept the status quo. I want to be able to tell my children or my grandchildren that I did my very best to make Idaho's educational system the best system possible. History will judge us by what we do here today."

Rep. Donna Pence, D-Gooding said, "This bill is not a reliable measure of teacher effectiveness." She said, "We can do better. ... Let's take some time and look at this."

Rep. Brian Cronin, D-Boise, said, "This bill has not been funded, and it's a significant chunk of money." To make promises to teachers of extra pay in the current tough economic times without any funding source, he said, "just seems cruel." He said, "This is not fiscally responsible."

Rep. Ken Roberts, R-Donnelly, said he wanted to focus on "what we're actually debating today," which he said is policy. "We're not the Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee," which is charged with identifying funding for bills that pass. He noted that he's sponsored past bills for teacher performance pay. "This is not a new concept," he said. "It's being practiced in other states. .... What we're debating is policy. We're not debating a budget, we're not talking about unfunded mandates when we pass legislation on to a local district and say, 'you shall do this, and oh by the way, there's no money.' That's not what we're talking about." If the bill passes and if funding is available, "it will be funded one way or the other," Roberts said.

Rep. Bill Killen, D-Boise, disagreed with Roberts, and said, "I don't view that we are simply a debating society." He said the Legislature must craft policy that "we can actually implement." Killen said passing the merit pay bill without funding is "kind of like telling your kids you're going to take a trip to Disneyland next summer, but you know you're going to be laid off next week," and that it would be "better to do nothing at all."

Eye On Boise

News, happenings and more from the Idaho Legislature and the state capital.