Here are the three candidates’ answers when they were asked if Idaho’s schools are underfunded:
A.J. Balukoff: “It is underfunded.” He said the state is not meeting its constitutional mandate to provide for a "general, uniform and thorough system of public, free common schools."
Butch Otter: “I would say it could use some more funding, but I don’t think you can just throw money at a problem and expect to have the great results that A.J. is talking about.”
Steve Pankey: “Yes, they are underfunded.”
Otter then said the Boise schools - where Balukoff has been school board president for the past six years and on the board for 17 years - got a "special little deal" in 2006 to give them more funding. Balukoff denied it; he said as a charter school district, created 10 years before statehood, the Boise School District has additional taxing authority. "We’ve made good use of those additional funds," Balukoff said. "Our student achievement is the highest in the state. That’s because we have money to support the curriculum that we need."
Otter responded, “We can’t borrow money like they do in Washington, D.C. … If A.J.’s schools are doing so good, if he wants uniform schools across the state, then give some of that money you’re getting form the state to some of those rural districts that aren’t doing as good as you.”