School choice proponent appointed to committee that’s weighing school choice bill

School choice proponent Rep. Judy Boyle is joining the House Revenue and Taxation Committee before what’s expected to be a close vote on a divisive private school tax credit bill.

On Wednesday, the chief clerk of the House unceremoniously announced that Speaker Mike Moyle had appointed Boyle to Revenue and Taxation, officially taking her off the House Education Committee. The appointment comes after Boyle last year resigned from House Education to protest its handling of a library bill.

Both Boyle and Moyle say the abrupt appointment was unrelated to the pending tax credit bill.

Boyle, R-Midvale, told Idaho Education News that ever since leaving House Education she has asked Moyle for a new assignment. The speaker has the sole authority to appoint committee members. 

“I guess this was his time to do that,” Boyle said by phone. “I don’t ask ‘Why?’ or anything. I just say, ‘Yes, sir.’” 

Moyle, R-Star, told EdNews Thursday that Boyle “wasn’t going to (the education) committee, so I wanted to make sure she was involved.”

House Speaker Mike Moyle, R-Star

But the timing of the appointment has raised eyebrows among lawmakers and others who are gauging support for House Bill 447, which is awaiting a hearing and, potentially, a Revenue and Taxation vote. 

HB 447 is the latest proposal to fall under the loose heading of school choice. It would allow Idaho residents to claim $5,000 tax credits to cover tuition and other education expenses for a private school student. Idaho policymakers and education advocates for years have grappled with whether to fund private school at the risk of siphoning money from public schools. 

Had Revenue and Taxation voted on HB 447 earlier this week, the bill might’ve failed to advance, according to Rep. Ned Burns, a committee member who opposes school choice schemes. 

“It could have (been) either a tie or an outright loss,” Burns, D-Bellevue, told EdNews. “There were a couple of people that were waffling back and forth.”

Rep. Ned Burns, D-Bellevue

Burns said he’s concerned Boyle’s appointment could swing the vote in favor of the bill. 

That assumes Boyle will support HB 447, and she told EdNews that she hasn’t even read the bill yet. “I have never paid attention to committees that I’m not on,” she said. “I haven’t seen any Rev and Tax bills.” 

But it’s no secret that Boyle is a school choice proponent, and she’s advocated for similar policy proposals in the past. Her reelection campaign last year was backed by a high-spending school choice  political action committee, the Idaho Federation for Children. 

A hearing on HB 447 has yet to be scheduled.

Ryan Suppe

Ryan Suppe

Senior reporter Ryan Suppe covers education policy, focusing on K-12 schools. He previously reported on state politics, local government and business for newspapers in the Treasure Valley and Eastern Idaho. A Nevada native, Ryan enjoys golf, skiing and movies. Follow him on Twitter: @ryansuppe. Contact him at [email protected]

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