Breaking: IBE outlines legislative goals, and scoops Otter

(UPDATED, 1:50 p.m., with clarification from IBE.)

Idaho Business for Education has listed its 2018 legislative priorities — scooping Gov. Butch Otter in the process.

IBE, a lobbying group representing business executives from across the state, is going to push for a higher education “CEO” who will look to consolidate university operations, to free up money that could be funneled into college scholarships or other initiatives.

“Along with Gov. Otter we will ask the Legislature to consider a new governance structure for the State Board of Education office,” IBE said in an email to members Wednesday. “This will include the hiring of a Chief Education Officer who will be charged with implementing the Governor’s Task Force on Higher Education recommendations.”

Last week, Otter hinted at a plan “to structurally change exactly how we run higher education in the state of Idaho.” But in a speech at the Associated Taxpayers of Idaho’s annual conference, Otter stopped short of endorsing the CEO proposal, or any of the task force’s 12 recommendations.

That’s the custom; Otter withholds specifics until January, when he delivers his State of the State address on the opening day of the legislative session.

Evidently, the IBE didn’t get the memo.

Later Thursday, IBE President Rod Gramer told the Associated Press that he had overstated the point, and did not mean to imply that Otter has made a commitment to support a higher ed CEO.

The IBE’s other legislative priorities include several ideas that Otter has supported in past sessions:

  • An “adult completer scholarship,” for working students who have some college credits but no degree. Otter proposed a $3 million scholarship in 2017, but the bill stalled out.
  • Funding the fourth year of the “career ladder,” a five-year, $250 million plan to boost teacher pay. This has been a centerpiece of Otter’s K-12 budgets since the launch of the pay plan.
  • Additional funding for college and career counselors. Otter endorsed a $5 million counseling line item in 2016, and a $7 million line item in 2017.
  • A financial incentive for school districts that encourage high school students to receive a career-technical certificate at the same time they receive a diploma.
  • Getting a committee hearing on another early education bill, the Idaho School Readiness Act. The bill is modeled after a Mississippi pre-K law, passed four years ago. Pre-K advocates have had hearings before education committees in previous sessions — but their proposals have not gotten out of committee.
  • Starting work on a statewide student apprenticeship or internship program.

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