House defectors helped sink school budget


When several House Republicans sought to defect to the Senate during the 2012 elections, the conventional wisdom held that this shift would make the Senate more conservative — and more like the House.

The verdict: Yes and no.

The newcomers certainly had a profound impact Wednesday, when the Senate rejected the 2013-14 public schools budget.

The six Republican newcomers all voted against the budget: Cliff Bayer, Boise; Jim Guthrie, McCammon; Marv Hagedorn, Meridian; Bob Nonini, Coeur d’Alene; Jim Patrick, Twin Falls; and Steven Thayn, Emmett.

Senate Education Committee Chairman John Goedde and fellow budget opponents needed every one of these votes, since the $1.308 billion budget was voted down by a 17-18 margin.

If you’re looking to see how the 2012 elections affected the makeup of the state Senate, look no farther than this vote.

But it wouldn’t be quite accurate to say last year’s elections shaped the Senate in the House’s image. Let’s not forget that this same public schools budget sailed through the House with a resounding 52-16 margin.

In other words, the two houses are far apart on the budget, and since more than two-thirds of the House supported the original budget, House leaders are in no particular mood to yield ground.

“The Senate’s got a little problem now, and let’s see what they do to fix it,” House Speaker Scott Bedke, R-Oakley, said after Wednesday’s vote.

This “problem,” as Bedke terms it, can be traced to some extent to last year’s elections.

More budget analysis: Be sure to tune into Idaho Public Television’s “Idaho Reports” Friday at 8 p.m. MDT, 7 p.m. PDT. I’ll be on a pundits panel looking back at this surprising week — and looking ahead to next week.