Senators: Use $34 million for one-time needs


Members of the Senate Education Committee have their own ideas about what to do with $33.9 million stuck in legislative limbo.

This is the money Gov. Butch Otter and Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna earmarked for Otter’s education reform task force. The task force, which began meeting in January, will not have any proposals for the 2013 Legislature, nor designs for the proposed $33.9 million line item.

Consequently, Senate Education members want the money spent as one-time money, and not built into ongoing budgets. Their reasoning: When the task force presents proposals to the 2014 Legislature — for implementation in the 2014-15 budget year, beginning July 1, 2014 — senators want to make sure there is money available to back up the group’s ideas.

On Wednesday afternoon, Senate Education members suggested several one-time options. Chairman John Goedde, R-Coeur d’Alene, suggested block grants to allow districts to purchase technology or experiment with merit pay. Sen. Steven Thayn, R-Emmett, suggested adding contract days, on a one-time basis, to accommodate teacher professional development. Sen. Branden Durst, D-Boise, said some of the money could be used to help districts pay down debt.

The discussion will continue Thursday morning, when Goedde and House Education Committee Chairman Reed DeMordaunt make presentations to the Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee.

Check Idaho Education News Thursday for updates.

And read Clark Corbin’s Wednesday story to get the pulse of the House Education Committee.