Signs point to K-12 budget deal (UPDATED)

(UPDATED, 10:37 a.m., with comments from Senate floor.)

Do legislators have a deal to set the 2013-14 public school budget — and end the 2013 legislative session?

Here’s one important sign.

The House and Senate education committees have scheduled a public meeting Wednesday to discuss public schools budget legislation. The hearing is slated for 8 a.m. in the Statehouse’s Lincoln Auditorium.

This public hearing is a key point for senators who voted down the first proposed public schools budget last week — including the seven Republicans on the Senate Education Committee. These opponents said the proposal, and the budget-writing Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee, overstepped its bounds by earmarking money for programs such as merit pay, professional development and technology.

This hearing also is one of several steps in a compressed 48-hour schedule that could yield a budget.

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Sen. Bart Davis, R-Idaho Falls

On the Senate floor Tuesday morning, Senate Majority Leader Bart Davis, R-Idaho Falls, laid out a timetable that could lead to adjournment by Thursday:

  • The Senate State Affairs Committee will meet Tuesday, likely in the morning, to introduce, or “print,” legislation on the $1.3 billion spending plan.
  • If that legislation is printed, the education committees would hold a hearing on it Wednesday.
  • If the committees sign on, the Senate would vote on this bill Wednesday morning — with the hope of passing the bill and sending it to the House.
  • After that, JFAC would still have a role to play. The committee would meet Wednesday, likely for the last time this session, and draw up the actual spending bill.
  • The Senate would vote on the JFAC budget Thursday morning — again, with hopes of sending it along to the House.

“We believe that a path forward has been agreed upon,” said Davis.

The Legislature can move very quickly in the closing days — especially on a bill, like the public schools budget, that is the linchpin to adjournment. The signs indicate that a deal is moving along.

Keep an eye on Idaho Education News, and this blog, for the latest updates.

Kevin Richert

About 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 KIVI 6 On Your Side; "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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