Gov. Butch Otter said Wednesday he will champion restoring pieces of three education laws voters widely rejected last month, after seeing a poll showing Idahoans still back aspects of the reforms.
We got back some very good numbers that I think we can rely on, Otter told the Associated Taxpayers of Idaho at a Boise meeting that marks the informal annual kickoff of the legislative season.
There were parts and pieces of every one of those that folks did want, Otter said, adding that hes working on providing suggestions to lawmakers when they convene Jan. 7. There will be some early ideas that come forth.
Otter didnt elaborate on what portions of Propositions 1, 2 and 3 he will try to revive, but he highlighted the importance of boosting technology in classrooms.
I know something is going to come, with us or without us, Otter said.
The poll was conducted by a group associated with Otter, Education Voters of Idaho, which raised about $640,000 in support of the propositions. EVI spokesman John Foster declined to release the poll Wednesday.
During the question period, former state economist Mike Ferguson asked Otter if he believed the state is complying with the Idaho Constitutions mandate that Idaho maintain a general, uniform and thorough system of public, free common schools.
Ferguson now directs the Idaho Center for Fiscal Policy, which says support for Idaho schools has fallen by a fifth since 2000. The center says after decades of funding schools at roughly 4.4 percent of personal income, the figure fell to 3.5 percent in fiscal 2013. Meanwhile, school districts are increasingly relying on voter-approved supplemental property tax levies, which rose from $140 million to $169 million this year.
At first, Otter said, Im not prepared to answer that question, and asked Ferguson whether the state has ever met the standard. He added that it isnt fair for rural districts to offer a less robust curriculum than urban districts.
Finally, Otter said, I would say that were probably not (meeting the constitutional obligation), but were doing the best job that we can and were going to continue to do the best job that we can.
Dan Popkey: 377-6438, Twitter: @IDS_politics