Monthly Archives: March 2015

Tax Bill Passes Idaho House

The bill from Idaho House leadership proposing tax changes passed the House today. Idaho Public Radio’s Jeff Myers reports from Boise. (:55 )

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House bill 311 passed the Idaho legislative House in a vote of 53 to 17.

The bill would eliminate sales tax on groceries and would remove the 100 dollar grocery tax credit Idahoans receive. The bill also adjusts taxation rates by consolidating the current top 3 taxable income levels, providing instead for a 6.7% tax on all taxable income above 4,000 dollars.

Additionally the bill would raise Idaho’s gas and fuel tax by 7 cents. The gas and fuel tax increase dollars would be distributed to state and local highway funds to help pay for maintenance and repair on Idaho’s roads. Of the funds raised by the gas tax increase 60% would go to the state and 40% would go to local districts.

The bill would also take 5 million dollars from the tax refund account and redistribute 3 million to the state highway account and 2 million to local highway districts.  The bill will now go to the Senate for consideration.

I’m Jeff Myers, Idaho Public Radio, at the state Capitol.

Copyright 2015 Idaho Public Radio

Posted March 30, 2015

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Idaho Teacher Career Ladder Passes

The teacher career ladder bill swept through the House and Senate drawing no opposing votes. It now awaits the Governor’s signature. Its passage allowed Idaho’s budget committee to return to work today on the public schools budget, and JFAC passed a 7.4% increase in K- 12 spending. With more on the career ladder, here is Idaho Public Radio’s Jeff Myers in Boise. (:60)

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The Idaho Legislature passed HB 296 which is intended to attract and retain quality teachers in Idaho Schools. Under the new career ladder system starting teacher salary would rise from $31,750 to $32,700 beginning July 1st of this year. Over the next five years that number would climb to $37,000. The cost of the pay increase to the state for those five years is expected to be $125 million.

Marilyn Whitney, Senior Special Assistant for Education and Government Services, said that the bill would provide for an across the board pay increase to Idaho’s teachers and would address the fiscal instability in Idaho schools. “This bill does that,” said Whitney, “by putting Idaho on a trajectory to significantly increase teacher salaries and to provide districts with a more stable source of salary funding.”

Under the career ladder teachers would progress through a series of rungs, beginning in the residential tier, which contains three salary levels. After three years they would be eligible to enter the professional tier, where there are five pay grades. Professional level teachers would also be eligible for renewable contracts.

In order to reach professional teacher status educators would be required to teach for three years and receive a professional endorsement. This endorsement would be based on effectiveness evaluations developed locally within the districts.

Teachers in the professional rung could also qualify for increased pay based on continued education and excellence in the classroom. Teachers with a bachelor’s degree and 24 additional credits would earn $2,000 more per year while teachers holding a master’s degree would qualify for $3,500 more per year. Teachers who had proven themselves to be the best and brightest and had worked as a teacher for at least 8 years, could qualify for a master premium which would amount to $4,000 extra per year. “This is meant to award those super star teachers, or groups of teachers, that are getting tremendous results in the classroom.” said Whitney.

The career ladder plan also accounts for reviews of the evaluation measures upon which teacher salary increases would be based. These reviews, conducted by State Department of Education appointed personnel, would examine a random sample of evaluations in order to ensure statewide standards for education and achievement were being met.

According to a recent report from the National Education Association only two states in the nation, Mississippi and South Dakota, rank below Idaho in average public school teacher salary. Senator Dean Mortimer (R-Idaho Falls), who sponsored the bill on the floor, characterized the dire situation that Idaho’s K-12 schools face. “According to the Idaho State Department of Education the total number of certified teachers in Idaho has dropped by 1,259 teachers in the last 6 years.” said Mortimer, “The number of students in Idaho schools however has increased by 14,481… the number of students has increased by about 5% while the number of teachers has decreased by 7%.” Mortimer also cited a survey conducted by Idaho State University Assistant Professor, Dr. Patti Mortinsen. “27 of 54 districts left positions unfilled and increased class size. 22 of 55 districts cancelled classes or programs because of lack of teaching professionals. 23 of 55 districts started the school year with a substitute teacher while hoping to make a permanent hire.”

Copyright 2015 Idaho Public Radio

Posted March 27, 2015

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Roosevelt in Idaho in 1911, and Abe MacGregor Goff Was There

More than 300 oral histories from people who grew up in North Idaho early in the 20th century are now online through the University of Idaho Library. Idaho Public Radio’s Glenn Mosley reports. (1:10)

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One of the pieces of Idaho history that continues to fascinate people is the visit of former President Teddy Roosevelt to the University of Idaho in Moscow in April, 1911. Roosevelt gave a speech in front of the Administration Building before a large crowd.

Roosevelt

(Roosevelt in Idaho. Photo courtesy University of Idaho Historical Photograph Collection)

The visit fascinated Abe MacGregor Goff– he was there that day:

Abe MacGregor Goff: “He was a very interesting speaker. He had the crowd with him. You could understand why Roosevelt– Roosevelt the Great, as I call him– was such a popular figure.”

Goff was born in 1899, and in his life served as a state legislator, member of Congress, and chairman of the Interstate Commerce Commission.

Goff-A_01

(Abe MacGregor Goff. Photo courtesy University of Idaho Historical Photograph Collection)

His Roosevelt story is just one of many such stories now available through the University of Idaho Library.

The library has made more than 300 Latah County oral histories available online. There are 569 hours in all, focused on north Idaho in the early part of the 20th century. The Latah County Historical Society collected the oral histories from interviews conducted in the mid-1970s.

I’m Glenn Mosley reporting.

Online:

http://www.lib.uidaho.edu/digital/lcoh/.

Copyright 2015 Idaho Public Radio

Posted March 26, 2015

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Idaho Football Begins Spring Practice

The Idaho Vandals football team doesn’t begin its season until September, but competition for playing spots starts now. Idaho Public Radio’s  Anna Hammons reports. (:43)

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Under NCAA rules, college football teams are allowed fifteen practices in the spring. For the Idaho Vandals, spring ball means competition to help determine who will start the season opener on September 3rd.

Coach Paul Petrino said at a press conference Tuesday that the atmosphere around the team has been good:

Paul Petrino: “It’s just been real upbeat, positive, I think, all the guys that are in the locker room right now, I feel like the locker room is really good right now. I think the leadership is really good. We just need to go out and have fifteen great days of practice.

This is Petrino’s third spring with the team, and work continues to try to turn around a program that has struggled to win in recent seasons. The Vandals open their season at home on September 3rd against Ohio University.

I’m Anna Hammons reporting.

Copyright 2015 Idaho Public Radio

Posted March 25, 2015

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“It Was Not Us”– Idaho Department of Education on Schoolnet Report

The Idaho Department of Education Tuesday responded to a report which said the state has spent $61 million on the Schoolnet program with little to show for it. Idaho Public Radio’s Glenn Mosley has more. (:60 )

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Department of Education officials went before the Idaho legislature’s joint oversight committee Tuesday morning with a message:

Tim Corder: “We also would tell you that it was not us. It was the previous administration. Now, I know that sounds like passing the buck, but I only say that to give you a contrast for where we want to go. Superintendent Ybarra did not create that problem, but Superintendent Ybarra is going to be about fixing that problem.”

Tim Corder is special assistant to Idaho’s new Superintendent of Public Instruction, and he told lawmakers that the Department of Education is a changed administration. He acknowledged that the report issued Monday by the Office of Performance Evaluations was accurate.

That report said poor management and poor decisions led to the spending of $61 million on a failed statewide instructional management system. DOE says it prefers to have an instructional management system at each school district, under local control.

I’m Glenn Mosley reporting.

Copyright Idaho Public Radio

Posted March 24, 2015

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On the web:

http://legislature.idaho.gov/ope/publications/reports/r1504.html

Audio from Idaho Public Television feed

Idaho Senate Approves Funding Appropriations

by Jeff Myers

Idaho Public Radio

State Capitol Correspondent

Here’s a list of the appropriation measures approved by the Idaho State Senate floor Tuesday afternoon:

IMG_5240

(The Idaho Senate chambers Tuesday afternoon. Photo by Jeff Myers)

HB 264, an appropriation of $88,007,100 to the divisions of Mental Health, Psychiatric Hospitalization, and Substance Abuse Treatment and Prevention for the fiscal year 2016, passed the Senate Floor in a vote of 34-0. It will now go to the Governor’s desk.

HB 268, an appropriation of $69,600 to the Department of Lands for fiscal year 2015 and $50,641,800 for fiscal year 2016, passed the Senate Floor in a vote of 34-0. It will now go to the Governor’s desk.

HB 271, an appropriation of $2,476,300 to the State Appellate Public Defender for fiscal year 2016, passed the Senate Floor in a vote of 34-0. It will now go to the Governor’s desk.

HB 272, an appropriation of $3,828,700 to the State Treasurer for fiscal year 2016, passed the Senate Floor in a vote of 34-0. It will now go to the Governor’s desk.

HB 273, an appropriation of $20,683,200 to the Department of Water Resources for fiscal year 2016, passed the Senate Floor in a vote of 34-0. It will now go to the Governor’s desk.

H 274, an appropriation of $149,545,500 to the Department of Health and Welfare’s Welfare Division for fiscal year 2016, passed the Senate Floor in a vote of 25-9. It will now go to the Governor’s desk.

HB 276, an appropriation of $99,734,500 to the Department of Health and Welfare’s divisions of Child Welfare, Services for the Developmentally Disabled and Service Integration for fiscal year 2016, passed the Senate Floor in a vote of 34-0. It will now go to the Governor’s desk.

SB 1171, an appropriation of $39,213,300 to the Superintendent of Public Instruction for fiscal year 2016, passed the Senate Floor in a vote of 34-0. It will now go to the House for consideration.

Copyright 2015 Idaho Public Radio

Posted March 24, 2015

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Idaho House Approves FY ’16 Spending Measures

by Jeff Myers

Idaho Public Radio

State Capitol Correspondent

It was another busy day for Idaho lawmakers in the House of representatives Tuesday.

IMG_5239

(The Idaho House today. Jeff Myers photo)

SB 1148 passed 47-22. Appropriates $268,000 to the Commission on Hispanic Affairs for FY 2016.

SB 1149 passed 47-22. Appropriates $8,699,300 to Idaho Public Television for FY 2016

SB 1151 passed 58-7. Appropriates $66,928,800 to the Division of Professional-Technical Education for FY 2016.

HB 304 passed 67-0. Appropriates $34,561,000 to the State Board of Education for community colleges for FY 2016

HB 305 passed 54-12. Appropriates $5,857,500 to the Office of the State Board of Education for FY 2016

All of these appropriations must pass the Senate and be signed into law by Governor Butch Otter.

Copyright 2015 Idaho Public Radio

Posted March 24, 2015

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