Boise, ID – Idaho’s budget writing lawmakers Monday set the state’s public schools budget. It accounts for about half of the state’s total spending. Under the proposal schools would get more than one and a half billion dollars in 2013, a four point six percent boost. That was the easy part.
The committee split along part lines over a proposal to increase the minimum salary for teachers. Superintendent Tom Luna testified that raising the base pay of 30 thousand dollars by 500 dollars would mean a raise for the 31 percent of teachers who make less than that. Democrats wanted to free up parts of the pay system that have been frozen due to cuts in past years. They said that would mean raises for more teachers including experienced ones. Democratic Senator Nicole Lefavour said that would tell teachers that lawmakers respect them.
LeFavour: “I’m afraid that right now, across the state, there are a lot of teachers who just think that we hate them. We really have asked teachers to pay a lot, and carry a lot of the burden of our difficult budget times.”
Republicans, like co-chair Dean Cameron took issue with Lefavour’s assertion that lawmakers don’t respect teachers.
Cameron ‘I think both motions show respect for teachers. Both motions are attempting in different ways to recognize and reward our good teachers and to keep good teachers, and to attract good teachers.”
The motion to increase the minimum salary passed but unfreezing the salary grid did not. The salary boost goes to the full Senate and House along with the school budget package.