Statehouse roundup, 1.21.16: 60 percent goal — and more

The Senate Education Committee swiftly, and unanimously, gave initial approval to new legislation supporting an old metric.

The committee voted to introduce a resolution endorsing Idaho’s 60 percent goal. By 2020, the state’s education and political leaders want 60 percent of the state’s 25- to 34-year-old to hold some form of postsecondary degree or certificate.

The 60 percent goal has been a touchstone of sorts in Idaho’s education debate. Gov. Butch Otter’s education task force based its 20 reform recommendations on supporting the 60 percent drive.

Brad LIttle IASA
Lt. Gov. Brad Little

And, not surprisingly, the non-binding 60 percent resolution has wide-ranging support. Lt. Gov. Brad Little introduced the proposal Thursday afternoon; he said Otter’s office, the State Board of Education and key lawmakers had a hand in writing it. The State Board endorsed the resolution during a three-minute conference call Thursday afternoon.

By all accounts, however, the 60 percent goal is ambitious.

In 2014, only 42 percent of the state’s 25- to 34-year-olds held a postsecondary degree. A year ago, education task force member and Idaho Business for Education board member Bob Lokken told lawmakers that it’s unlikely the state will hit the 60 percent mark by 2020.

In other Statehouse news Thursday:

STEM tax credit. The lawmakers who pushed last year for an Idaho STEM Action Center now want to encourage private donations to the clearinghouse.

They want the state to expand Idaho’s education income tax law to cover the center, which is designed to provide grants and teacher training to support the “STEM” disciplines of science, technology, engineering and math.

Sen. Bob Nonini, R-Coeur d’Alene, and Rep. Reed DeMordaunt, R-Eagle, are proposing the bill, which has the support of Gov. Butch Otter.

The tax credit could take roughly $25,000 a year out of the state’s general fund.

The House Revenue and Taxation Committee voted to introduce the tax credit bill Thursday, which means it is likely to come back to the committee for a full hearing later.