LAST WEEK'S HIGHLIGHTS
School budget: The public schools budget failed in the Senate, 18-17, after members cited concerns that the Legislature's Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee overstepped its bounds - in effect setting state policy - by funding technology pilot projects and teacher merit pay in the 2014 fiscal year budget rather than using appropriate available funds.
Teacher hiring, training: The Senate passed a measure to restore $30 million that was repealed when voters repealed the Students Come First laws in November. The more than $2.5 million appropriated in the 2013 budget for computers under Students Come First will go to technology and professional development training for teachers. The appropriation also restores more than $4.8 million for hiring math and science teachers.
Federal lands: The Senate State Affairs Committee approved a set of resolutions that would demand the federal government cede title to public lands in Idaho and establish an interim public lands committee to study state management and control of U.S. government lands. Proponents contend the move would create more money for the state's school trust fund and provide more direct management by Idahoans. Opponents argue the proposal would disrupt protections for water, wildlife habitat and recreational opportunities.
Roads: The House Transportation and Defense Committee heard new plans for new revenue and taxes to address a $543 million shortfall in transportation funding. Backed by Sen. Bert Brackett, R-Rogerson, the legislation would increase state gasoline taxes, transfer fees and registration fees for most personal vehicles and large trucks to create $236.5 million for the state. The measures are expected to come before lawmakers in 2014.
With pending legislation dwindling on both the House and Senate sides of the Capitol's rotunda, members of the House and Senate Education committees are expected to work to come to an agreement on the 2014 public education budget. As of Friday, those hearings hadn't been scheduled.
Christina Lords, Post Register
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