The heads of the Legislature’s two education committees reiterated calls Thursday to provide public schools the $34 million that had been set aside for an education reform task force.
The task force won’t have recommendations for spending the $34 million in 2013-14. But Senate Education Committee Chairman John Goedde, R-Coeur d’Alene, and House Education Committee Chairman Reed DeMordaunt, R-Eagle, stressed that the money should not be shifted from schools and into other programs.
“We vigorously defend keeping those funds in the K-12 education budget,” Goedde told the Joint Finance-Appropriatons Committee, the Legislature’s budget-writing panel.
Goedde and DeMordaunt also are members of the task force.
Goedde restated his preference to spend the $34 million only on one-time expenses, as opposed to ongoing needs. He argued that the $34 million would only be available for 2013-14, because the task force likely would have different reform-related recommendations for 2014-15.
DeMordaunt again called for adding professional development to help teachers implement Common Core standards, raising minimum teacher salaries, providing grants to districts for pilot programs on new technology and sweeping money into rainy-day savings accounts.
Sen. Dean Cameron, a Rupert Republican and co-chairman of JFAC, asked Goedde and DeMordaunt to weigh in on the $13 million difference between Gov. Butch Otter’s 2013-14 budget proposal and Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna’s funding plan.
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Cameron pointed out that the 3 percent increase proposed by Luna plan doesn’t fit with Otter’s call for a 2 percent increase, “unless we somehow magically find $13 million in some other place.”
Both Goedde and DeMordaunt hedged, saying they looked more at expenses than revenues. But Goedde said his committee looked more closely at Luna’s $1.3 billion spending package.
“There are ways to spend (Luna’s) 3 percent very effectively,” Goedde said.
Budget writers will reconvene Friday morning to continue statewide budget discussions and, potentially, set the revenue figure — the official basis for the 2013-14 budgets.