Otter signs pieces of the K-12 budget

Otter sine die
Gov. Butch Otter, recapping the 2014 session at a Friday news conference.

Gov. Butch Otter signed three pieces of the 2014-15 K-12 budget Wednesday — but he hasn’t yet acted on the biggest piece of the $1.37 billion budget.

The three bills Otter signed Wednesday account for about two-fifths of the overall budget. He signed House Bill 637, the $79.7 million administration budget, which includes a 1 percent pay raise for administrators; House Bill 639, a 484.7 million operations budget, which includes a 1 percent pay raise for non-certified employees; and House Bill 640, a $23.9 million general fund appropriation for various children’s programs.

The largest of the seven education bills remained unsigned: House Bill 638, the $755.1 million teachers’ budget, which includes a 1 percent pay raise and $15.8 million worth of teacher leadership premiums.

Even though all seven pieces of the K-12 budget cleared the Senate within two hours on Thursday, Otter has signed only three of the components. HB 638, and the other K-12 budget bills, do not appear on a long list of Wednesday bill signings posted on Otter’s website.

“The simple answer is (Otter) is dealing with large volumes of bills some of which are time sensitive,” spokesman Jon Hanian said Wednesday. “Those usually are treated first. … I wouldn’t read anything into the fact that not all of them have been signed.”

Otter did not recommend pay raises at the start of the 2014 session, he voiced support for the Legislature’s K-12 budget at a post-session news conference Friday.

Otter still has more than a week to act on the rest of the K-12 budgets. While the session adjourned Thursday, the governor’s deadline for acting on bills is April 4. To date, Hanian said, Otter has acted on about 173 of the 355 bills approved by the Legislature. Otter has vetoed no bills so far this session, allowing one bill to become law without his signature.

Otter also endorsed several other K-12 bills Wednesday in a flurry of post-session signings. Among the highlights:

  • House Bill 650, the $4.8 million broadband bailout. This will fund the Idaho Education Network high school broadband program through Feb. 28.
  • Senate Bill 1372, a bill defining what is, and what isn’t, student data that districts can collect. The data security bill also establishes $50,000 fines for individuals or schools that leak student data. (Otter issued a news release on the SB 1372 signing on Thursday.)
  • Senate Bill 1233, a $3 million mastery scholarship program.
  • House Bill 568, which allows rural school districts to hire the spouses of school trustees.
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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