Last week in the Idaho Legislature

January 19, 2014 

LAST WEEK’S HIGHLIGHTS

Dams and water: Members of the Idaho Water Resource Board threw their support behind Gov. Butch Otter’s $15 million in proposed funding for water storage projects around the state — including a $2.5 million expansion at Island Park Reservoir.

Education: Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna told a joint session of the House and Senate education committees that the 20 recommendations of the Governor’s Task Force for Improving Education are the right blueprint to change and improve the Idaho public school system. He advocated a 5.4 percent increase in the state’s education budget for fiscal year 2014, an additional $70 million.

Justice system: A legislative interim committee said proposed “justice reinvestment” policies are estimated to help Idaho avoid spending more than $288 million during the next five years to keep up with the state’s growing prison population.

It recommends investing $33 million for more training for probation and parole officers, an expansion of community-based treatment options for probationers and parolees, and measures to ensure programs designed to keep offenders out of additional trouble are working. Otter termed the proposal a “no-brainer.”

Raises for state workers: The Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee accepted a report recommending a 2 percent pay increase for state workers for fiscal year 2015. The raise would cost the state about $11 million and affect about 17,000 Idaho workers. Committee members must vote again Feb. 12 to allocate the money.

WHAT TO WATCH FOR THIS WEEK

Education Week: The Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee will hear budget proposals for Idaho’s universities, colleges and K-12 education. The State Board of Education begins the week’s presentations at 8 a.m. Monday.

Common Core: Idaho residents will have their first opportunity of the session to ask lawmakers questions about the Idaho Core Standards, often referred to as Common Core. Chairmen of the Senate and House education committees will bring Idahoans together for a discussion about the standards at 3 p.m. Wednesday at the Capitol.

Christina Lords, Idaho Falls Post Register

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