Some Idaho Senators Want To Block The State’s Biggest Budget

Mar 26, 2013

Credit Adam Cotterell / Boise State Public Radio

Idaho lawmakers want to wrap up the 2013 Legislative session Friday. But one big obstacle stands in the way, the $1.3 billion public education budget, which makes up nearly half of the state’s spending. It’s passed the House and comes before the Senate Wednesday morning. And there’s a group of senators that don’t like it.

One of those is Dean Mortimer who was also one of five senators who objected when the budget writing committee passed the schools budget.

“There’s not enough flexibility for our districts in discretionary income,” Mortimer says.

He wants money earmarked for teacher salaries to go to districts for general operations. But he also objects because he thinks the budget committee overstepped its authority. Mortimer is also vice chair of the education committee whose job is setting policy. He thinks the budget committee strayed into policy setting by adding things like technology pilot projects and bonuses for teachers. Mortimer says he’ll try to educate his fellow Senators about how that process is supposed to work and leave it to them. But he’ll vote against the schools budget in its present form.

“And typically JFAC budgets are not amended,” he adds.

If amendments are off the table then success for Mortimer would mean starting over with a new education budget. He might like one closer to the budget he backed in JFAC . His main partner in the effort is Senate Education chair John Goedde, who also thinks the budget committee overstepped its bounds. Besides the other four senators who voted against it in committee, a few other Republicans have expressed objections. But we don’t know if Mortimer has enough senators on his side to kill the budget.

Copyright 2013 Boise State Public Radio