JFAC has voted 13-6 in favor of Rep. Wendy Horman’s motion for the Operations Division of the public school budget, which means Sen. Dean Mortimer’s proposal – which was framed around setting up a separate line item for health insurance cost increases within the school budget – won’t be considered. Here’s how the vote broke down:
Voting in favor: Sens. Agenbroad, Ward-Engelking, and Nye; and Reps. Bell, Youngblood, Miller, Horman, Malek, Burtenshaw, Anderson, Dixon, King and Wintrow.
Voting against: Sens. Keough, Bair, Mortimer, Souza, Lee and Martin.
Then, there was a 14-5 vote in favor of the “intent language” that lays out how the new approach to discretionary funds will work, including increases in funding to districts related to health insurance cost increases and an increase tied to inflation for other types of cost increases. Horman said, “For the first time ever, we have a budget built on actual costs. ... It’s going to help the state identify costs and increases as we move forward.”
Sen. Shawn Keough, R-Sandpoint, JFAC co-chair, asked, “What about those districts that are not average – does this language tie the hands of the local school board, and in fact become a reduction of the discretionary funds?” Horman said, “No, it does not. This language reflects that if they are not spending that amount in health care … the excess funds may be used” at the discretion of the school district. “And I would emphasize that as full discretion,” Horman said. “The thing this does do is again, for the first time give us a handle on what districts are actually spending, and what rate increases they will be experiencing, so that we can … address them as a budgeting committee.”
Horman noted that the Idaho School Boards Association has strongly opposed adding any new line items within the public school budget. “We had an association draw a hard line in the sand on line items,” she said.
The only five "no" votes on the intent language were Sens. Keough, Bair, Mortimer, Souza and Nye.