Statehouse roundup, 3.17.22: Little vetoes teacher premium expansion

A bill that would have allowed 23 teachers-turned-school administrators to continue receiving master educator premiums — $4,000-a-year bonuses for veteran teachers — received Gov. Brad Little’s first veto of the legislative session Thursday.

The premium program gives public school teachers, and only teachers, three years’ worth of bonuses if they apply for the program and are accepted. The program sunsets after the 2023-24 school year.

“Prior to sunsetting this program, master educator premiums were intended to be an incentive to keep teachers in the classroom. By providing them to teachers who moved outside of teaching roles, this appears to be at odds with the original purpose of this program,” Little wrote in a notice to the House, which easily passed the bill.

Little called on the Legislature to continue advancing his proposals that teachers receive higher pay and benefits across the board, calling it a “more appropriate way” of compensating teachers.

The bill would have cost an estimated $191,000.

House Bill 533 could still become law if two thirds of the House and Senate vote to override Little’s veto. Although both houses passed the bill with veto-proof majorities, it isn’t immediately clear whether they’ll take the measure up again.

Community college budget goes to Little’s desk

The Senate passed a budget bill funding Idaho’s community college system with no drama Thursday.

The budget would put $57.7 million of general fund tax money into the community college system, a 9% bump.

The lion’s share of the increase, $4.6 million, would fund 5% pay raises for staff of Idaho’s four two-year community colleges.

House Bill 759 passed without opposition or debate, and heads to Little’s desk.

Blake Jones

Blake Jones

Reporter Blake Jones covers the politics and policy of Idaho's K-12 public school system. He's a lifelong Idahoan, and holds degrees in Creative Writing and Political Economy from the College of Idaho. Follow Blake on Twitter @jonesblakej. He can be reached by email at [email protected].

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