Boise Democrats writing K-12 budget counterproposal

It’s unclear when legislative budget-writers will try to write a spending plan for K-12, but two Boise Democrats are already writing a counterproposal.

Their alternative budget would pump an additional $29.5 million into K-12 — above the 7.4 percent increase proposed by Gov. Butch Otter.

Gannon New
Rep. John Gannon

The Otter proposal does not come close to restoring K-12 budgets to their 2008-09 level, before the governor and the Legislature imposed a series of recession-era spending cuts, according to Reps. John Gannon and Phylis King.

“Our proposal moves kids to the front of the line,” King said.

The plan factors in enrollment growth, but even King and Gannon point out that their plan does not restore district operational budgets to pre-recession levels — or account for inflation.

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Rep. Phylis King

It would cost nearly $30 million just to restore operational spending to $25,696 per support unit, the pre-recession peak. Otter has proposed boosting the operational spending to $23,660 per support unit, up from $22,401.

Above the $30 million needed to get operational spending back to $25,696 per support unit, it would take an additional $33.8 million just to cover inflation since 2009, Gannon said.

After a round of elections that saw voters approve more than $358 million in bond issues and school levies statewide, Gannon said it’s time for legislators to step up.

“Voters understand that growth requires more facilities and these facilities require more funds for staffing,” he said. “Voters realize that three-day weekends are not the way to educate children. And voters showed they know that quality educators deserve compensation.”

Gannon and King both sit on the budget-writing Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee. With the House Education Committee still wrestling with a proposed career ladder to boost teacher pay, JFAC has not set a date to write a K-12 budget.

Kevin Richert

Kevin Richert

Senior reporter and blogger Kevin Richert specializes in education politics and education policy. He has more than 30 years of experience in Idaho journalism. He is a frequent guest on "Idaho Reports" on Idaho Public Television and "Idaho Matters" on Boise State Public Radio. Follow Kevin on Twitter: @KevinRichert. He can be reached at [email protected]

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