Education

Small Increase May Mean Taxes

July 23, 2019 2 min read

Shortly before the close of their 1986 session last month, Idaho lawmakers approved a 3.3 percent increase in state support for public education.

The increase was smaller than those of the previous two years, which officials say barely kept pace with inflation.

“I’m disappointed, but not surprised,” said State Superintendent Jerry Evans. According to his projections, he said, the increase “does not provide for the maintenance of current operation levels.”

To raise funds, financially strapped school districts will probably have to ask local voters for increases in property-tax revenues, he said. “We will have more override levies than in the past because of the inadequate level of appropriations.”

The legislature appropriated $314 million for public-school support for the next school year, including a one-time appropriation of $4- million for textbooks and other instructional materials.

The current year’s appropriation is $304 million, $1.8 million of which was a one-time appropriation that is not distributed through the state’s equalized-funding formula.

Gov. John V. Evans is expected to sign the budget measure this week, according to his spokesman, although the allocation for public schools is slightly less than he had originally requested.

The bill would increase total state spending by about $34 million to $606 million next year.

The legislature also agreed to a temporary one-cent increase in the state sales tax. The increase will expire next July.

Although education officials had lobbied for the tax increase in the hope that the new revenues would go to education programs, lawmakers instead approved what many termed a “pork barrel” project of $27 million in new public-building construction.

“We took another step backwards in education funding,” said Donald Rollie, executive director of the Idaho Education Association.

“It’s going to be a very difficult spring and summer, not only for [collective] bargaining,” he said. “I feel sorry for administrators who have to try and run their schools under these conditions.”

In the upcoming primary and general elections, he predicted, “there will be a great effort to moderate what has become a very conservative and recalcitrant legislature.”

State lawmakers also passed a bill outlining for the first time a procedure for the recall of local school-board members. The law fulfills the terms of a state-court ruling last spring that school-board members are not exempt from recall elections under the state constitution.

A coalition of conservative legislators experienced little success this year with their education agenda, which included proposals to restrict the collective-bargaining rights of school employees and mandate balanced treatment of the theories of creationism and evolution. (See Education Week, Feb. 12, 1986.)

The one bill that the conservatives groups successfully lobbied for mandates the appointment of two non-educator parents to the statewide textbook-adoption committee.

A version of this article appeared in the April 09, 1986 edition of Education Week

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