Monthly Archives: April 2019

Lawmakers Recap Legislative Session

by Glenn Mosley

Idaho Public Radio

 

Idaho District 5 lawmakers met with constituents at a forum hosted by the League of Women Voters of Moscow on April 23 to recap the 2019 legislative session.

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“We are so thankful to be back,” State Rep. Caroline Nilsson Troy (R-Genesee) said. “We got through the third longest session in Idaho history in 95 days. And I would say for about the last twenty of them, there was a growing dislike between the House and the Senate that was reflected in some of the last pieces of legislation that came through.

“I think it shows that you can overcook yourselves while you’re down there,” Troy said.

Highlights for Rep. Troy included a concurrent resolution that passed both chambers asking the Idaho congressional delegation to support efforts to designate 611 as the national suicide prevention hotline, as well as efforts to ensure that veterans get appropriate counseling when they reach out.

Idaho Sen. David Nelson (D-Moscow) and Rep. Bill Goesling (R-Moscow) also attended the forum, and pointed to issues including Medicaid expansion, increased funding for literacy, increased funding for starting teacher pay, and increased school safety laws as some of the highlights of the session.

“Medicaid expansion was funded and passed and is the law of the land now,” Sen. Nelson said. “It’s got a few dents on it that we probably don’t like, but I think the positive thing is that it’s there, it’s funded, folks are going to start getting their services.”

Nelson expects another fight next session over Medicaid expansion.

Rep. Goesling said he got to work right after being elected.

“Really, my session began right after the election,” Rep. Goesling said. “I met with Greg Bailey, the superintendent, I met with the police chief, I met with the sheriff, and found out what we could do to improve school safety.

“So the first bill that I was able to run was the school violence bill,” Goesling said. Law enforcement officers now have more options and flexibility to make arrests for threats made against schools.

Goesling said one of the issues he’s working on for next session is retention of teachers in the state.

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Questions from the audience included inquiries on taxes, including the grocery tax and tax exemptions, as well as questions about the debate over Medicaid expansion and the hemp bill filed by Rep. Troy that failed this session.

The lawmakers also said they appreciated efforts by Governor Brad Little to include them in bill signing ceremonies.

“I have to say this governor has been really great about making these celebrations possible,” Troy said.

Troy also praised Governor Little’s efforts behind the scenes to help move the literacy funding and starting teacher pay, talking with individual lawmakers.

In the months before the start of the 2020 legislative session, interim committees of the Idaho State Legislature will look at issues including capitol services, child protection, federalism, criminal justice reinvestment, natural resources, Indian Affairs, legislative compensation, and occupational licensing and certification.

Idaho Governor Brad Little has announced that his office is looking at the state’s administrative rules, which the legislature did not act on before adjourning.

Posted April 24, 2019.

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Idaho State Board of Education Approves Hikes in Tuition and Fees at Four Year Institutions

On a vote of 5-3, the Idaho State Board of Education has approved all requested tuition and fee hikes at the state’s four year higher education institutions for the 2019-20 academic year.

“I don’t believe we heard a single frivolous request today,” Board President Linda Clark said. “And I think we heard a significant number of requests that meet identified needs that this Board has talked about over the last few months, centering around student counseling, services, and other kinds of things.”

“I have absolutely no concerns with the proposed fee increases,” ASUI President Nicole Skinner told the Board about the UI’s request. “None of them are for lavish purposes or anything like that. They really are just maintenance related.”

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(Photo: The Idaho State Board of Education, meeting at the University of Idaho in Moscow on April 17, 2019.)

Here are the rate increases approved today by the State Board for full-time resident tuition and fees: University of Idaho, 5.6%; Boise State University, 4.9%; Idaho State University, 6.1%, and Lewis Clark State College, 5.5%.

The State Board heard presentations from the four institutions before deciding on the rate increases.

“We have a fairly simple request this year,” University of Idaho Vice-President of Finance and Administration Brian Foisy told the Board. “I’ll characterize the request this year as a really a maintenance of current operations request. There’s nothing new, nothing exotic in the request.”

Foisy said the university is hoping to fund the change in employee compensation (CEC) package approved by state lawmakers to complement the funds appropriated by the state to make the 3% CEC package whole, and to provide funding for employee benefits.

Of her institution’s requested increase, Lewis Clark State College President Cynthia Pemberton told the Board, “LC remains absolutely, steadfastly committed to an affordable, high-quality education.”

Pemberton said the college came to its request by talking to students, faculty, and staff; and by running economic models to look at the college’s budget. “Our request focuses first and foremost on the notion of a high value education,” Pemberton said.

Posted April 17, 2019

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Idaho State Board of Education to Consider Tuition and Fee Hikes

The Idaho State Board of Education meets at the University of Idaho every April, and every April one of the main features of the meeting is the setting of tuition and fees for colleges and universities for the coming academic year.

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This year is no different.

The full-time resident tuition and fee increases being requested by the institutions are as follows: University of Idaho, 5.6%; Boise State University, 4.9%; Idaho State University, 6.1%, and Lewis Clark State College, 5.5%.

The requests come against this backdrop, according to meeting materials prepared by Board staff.

  • Since 1996, the portion of the state General Fund allocated to colleges and universities has decreased from 12.6% to 7.8%. Looking back even further, the portion was 20.8% in 1975.
  • The average cost to attend Idaho’s 4-year institutions has grown from $15,813 in
    2008 to $20,602 in 2018, up 30%, while the Idaho per capita income has increased
    from $32,580 to $40,444, or 24%.
  • The increases in the cost to attend college from 2008 to 2018 include:
    Tuition & Fees, 65%; Books and Supplies, 4%; Room and Board, 50%.
  • Idaho state lawmakers approved a 3% salary increase for state employees. However, there was no fund shift to fully cover the cost. “The funding gap puts pressure on student tuition and (as applicable) endowment funds if college and university employees are to receive the same compensation directed by lawmakers for other state employees,” Board staff says.

Boise State University, Idaho State University, University of Idaho, and Lewis-Clark State College notified students of proposed fee increases and conducted public hearings.

University of Idaho Request

The University of Idaho is requesting an increase in full-time student tuition and
fees of $440 from $7,864 per year in FY ’19 to $8,304 per year in FY20, combined with
an increase to the additional full-time non-resident tuition from $17,636 to $19,236 per
year.

This would bring the total full-time non-resident tuition and fee package to $27,540
per year. Undergraduate part-time student tuition and fees are increasing from $393 in
FY ’19 to $415 per credit in FY ’20.

The UI plans to increase the additional graduate tuition from $1,488 to $1,572, increasing the total resident graduate package from $9,352 in FY19 to $9,876 in FY20 (an increase of $524 or 5.6%).

The UI says $2.8 million is needed to cover the Change in Employee Compensation approved by lawmakers, faculty promotions and related benefit costs. The university says the tuition and fee package put forward generates almost exactly that amount.

The university completed a $5 million budget reduction and reallocation exercise resulting in a reallocation of $2 million in base General Education funding as well
as a reduction of $3 million to the base General Education budget, both of which will take
effect in FY ’20.

Posted April 16, 2019

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Idaho Update: Education-Related Legislation

The Idaho State Board of Education will receive an update at its meeting this week on education-related legislation from the 2019 Idaho legislative session.
The Board meets at the University of Idaho in Moscow April 17-18 at the Bruce M. Pitman Center.
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From Board materials, here is the update:

Board Supported Legislation:

• HCR 6, Music in our Schools Month – Passed both chambers
• HB 153,  Career Ladder, increases career ladder amounts for the
residency rung – Signed by the Governor on 3/21/19
• SB 1029, School Turnaround Act, codifies existing pilot program for
low performing schools managed by the Board office – Passed the Senate,
failed in the full House
• SB 1057, Continuous Improvement Plans, removes requirement to
report grade band performance and improvement indicators in school
district and charter school continuous improvement plans and requires the
plans to link to the new school district report cards – Signed by the Governor on 4/02/19
• SB 1059, Mastery-based Education Network Expansion – Signed by the Governor on 3/22/19
• HB 185, Rural Educator Loan Repayment Program – Did not receive a hearing.
• HB 218, Rural Teacher Incentive Program, State Superintendent
teacher pipeline imitative – Did not receive a hearing

Board Opposed Legislation:
• SB 1058, Charter School Administrator Certificate – Signed by the Governor on 3/21/19

Other legislation:

HB 293, on public school funding review and reporting. Lawmakers did not pass any changes to the state’s public school funding formula, but did pass this bill setting definitions and requiring school districts to report on enrollment and finances.

SB 1106, on career technical education, requires the Division of Career Technical Education to identify the CTE programs which can be delivered online program or a
hybrid of in-person and on-line education.

SB 1193 is the appropriation to the State Board of Education for special programs, which includes the scholarships and grants program. The $7 million for the Opportunity Scholarship Fund is in this bill.

HB 222 is FY ’20 appropriation for public school funding for the Division of Children’s
Programs of the Public Schools Education Support Program; this appropriation
moves $3,156,500 from the Opportunity Scholarship Program Account to be used
for K-3 Literacy.

HB 281 is an appropriation bill that moves funds between various
state accounts, including a transfer of $3,400,000 from the Opportunity Scholarship Program Account to the Public Education Stabilization Fund to address year-end shortfall in the public schools appropriation due to continued enrollment growth and participation in the Advanced Opportunities Program.

Posted April 16, 2019

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Idaho Women’s Tennis: A Championship Tradition

by Glenn Mosley

Idaho Public Radio

This past Saturday, Idaho women’s tennis dispatched Sacramento State on Senior Day, 6-1, to clinch a berth in the 2019 Big Sky Tennis Tournament later this month.

Idaho coach Babar Akbar saluted the team’s two seniors, Marianna Petrei and Maria Tavares.

“There is a bit of sadness in today because we lose some of the best tennis players I’ve ever had the chance to work with,” Akbar said in a pre-match ceremony. “These two have been amazing representatives for the university, for college tennis, and tennis in general.”

Petrei and Tavares have been part of a remarkable run for the Idaho women’s tennis program. Idaho will be chasing its fifth straight Big Sky championship this year and sixth straight conference championship.

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(Idaho women’s tennis, Senior Day, April 13, 2019)

If you are new to this championship tradition, permit us to bring you up to date. To do that properly, we have to take you back to 2014.

The program was 19-6 that year and won the Western Athletic Conference Championship, the first conference championship in Idaho women’s tennis history.

“The seniors should have some real pride for what they have been a part of and the level they have brought the program to,” Jeff Beaman, the coach in those days, said at the time.

One wonders if they had any idea what they had started.

The program, which then moved with other Idaho sports back to the Big Sky,  has won conference championships every year since.

In 2015, the Big Sky Conference crowned a new women’s tennis champion for the first time in 13 years when the No. 2 seeded Vandals defeated No. 1 Sacramento State.

“The way the team competed today was unbelievable,” coach Mariana Cobra said.

As exciting as that 2015 win was, the program was just getting warmed up.

Idaho standout Marianna Petrei arrived on campus on Jan. 5, 2016, just 10 days before the start of the spring tennis season. To say the team pulled it together is an understatement.

Petrei twice won 11 straight matches on her way to a 22-3 record. She had a .880 winning percentage, dropping just eight sets all season while going 11-0 in the conference season. She won her two completed matches in the Big Sky Tournament, helping the Vandals win their second Big Sky title.

The Big Sky coaches voted Petrei First Team All-Conference and she was named the Big Sky’s Most Valuable Player, the first of her three consecutive Big Sky MVP awards.

“That girl is one of the best players in college tennis,” Cobra said at the time.

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(Marianna Petrei, April 13, 2019)

Then came 2017, the team’s third straight Big Sky championship. This was the year Idaho’s lone senior, Claire Yang, won dramatically at the No. 6 court to help the team secure the title win over Northern Arizona.

“That is what this team is about. Heart and courage,” new coach Babar Akbar said that year. “The girls have earned this.”

In 2018, the Vandals defeated top-seeded Northern Arizona, 4-2, for their fourth straight Big Sky title and fifth straight conference championship overall.

“Our team is tough and they keep showing that they want to win more than anything else,” Akbar said.

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(Maria Tavares, April 13, 2019)

What 2019 will bring during the championship season is still to be determined. But whatever happens, one thing is certain– it’s a championship tradition at Idaho women’s tennis.

Posted April 15, 2019.

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Idaho State Legislature: Week 14 and Sine Die

After 95 legislative days, Idaho lawmakers went home on April 11.

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(Miranda Smith Collins photo)

In writing to his constituents, State Sen. Dan Johnson (R-Lewiston) said “The 1st Regular Session of the 65th Idaho Legislature has ended after 95 days of bill drafting, budget setting and exciting debate on the Senate floor.”

Among the legislative accomplishments Johnson pointed to were funding for a three percent pay increase for state employees; funding to shift the compensation schedule upwards by three percent at the minimum; policy and maximum pay rates in all pay grades; funding to maintain the current appropriated amount of health insurance for eligible full-time positions.

Senator David Nelson (D-Moscow) said, “There is a stark difference between the accomplishments of the Republicans and Democrats this session. House and Senate Democrats used this session to make necessary changes to Idaho law that resulted in improving the quality of life for many of our families, friends, and neighbors. We prioritized helping hardworking Idahoans get access to the tools necessary to live their happiest life.

“Unfortunately, the Majority spent the entire session flying in the face of everything that Idahoans need and deserve. They voted to put restrictions on Medicaid Expansion that will cost millions of dollars every year. They tried to make the initiative process so restrictive that it would be impossible for voters to get issues on the ballot. And, they attempted to make gerrymandering possible to consolidate power,” Nelson said.

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(Miranda Smith Collins photo)

More than 990 proposed pieces of legislation – resolutions, memorials and proclamations – were prepared for legislative committees and individual legislators during the 2019 session. Of the bills that passed both chambers, 330 were acted on by Governor Brad Little.

“We have accomplished many good things for the people of Idaho,” Johnson said.

Issues needing further examination will be studied by interim committees this summer and fall, including committees on Natural Resources, Criminal Justice Reinvestment Oversight, and Campaign Finance Reform, Pacific Fisheries.

Upcoming studies to be conducted by the Office of Performance Evaluations include a study of the Non-Emergency Medical Transportation program in Idaho and a study of the different consumer price indexes used by the state of Idaho.

You can find more coverage of the end of the session here:

https://idahopublicradio.wordpress.com/2019/04/14/idaho-legislative-session-ends/

Reporters Cheyenna McCurry, Miranda Smith Collins, and Glenn Mosley contributed to this story.

Posted April 14, 2019

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Scott Green: Telling the UI’s Stories

by Glenn Mosley

Idaho Public Radio

 

The University of Idaho’s new president, Scott Green, is an alumnus and international business leader.

“You’re going to see a much more visible University of Idaho,” Green told reporters after the announcement. “We really need to get our story out there…we have so many quality programs that are the best kept secret. I’m just dying to get out there as the chief advocate and emissary for the university and telling these stories.”

Green’s appointment was announced April 11 after a unanimous vote of the Idaho State Board of Education.

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“He brings a unique set of skills that will closely match the needs,” State Board of Education President Linda Clark said after the vote. “He was very well received on campus…The University of Idaho will be in good hands moving forward.”

Green says his priorities include improving the university’s finances and enrollment.

Green received a bachelor’s degree in accounting from UI in 1984 and a Master of Business Administration from Harvard; he’s been the global chief operating and financial officer of Hogan Lovells, an international law firm.

Green was the first non-lawyer to run an American Lawyer 100 law firm, was named one of the Top 50 Big Law Innovators of the Last 50 Years by American Lawyer Magazine and was inducted into the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants Business and Industry Hall of Fame.

“My experience running a complex organization will serve me well here,” Green said. “Obviously universities are also very complex organizations. I’d also say that my experience isn’t all that different. Working with lawyers and in law firms is probably the closest thing you’re going to get to a university model in the for-profit sector.

“Lawyers are highly educated, very intelligent, skeptical, and don’t respond well to command and control structures. You have to be comfortable with a shared governance model within partnerships,” Green said.

A committee appointed by the State Board spent several months reviewing more than 50 applicants for the position to replace Chuck Staben, whose contract ends June 15, 2019. Green’s annual salary will be $420,000.

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Talking with reporters, Green also stressed the importance traveling to all counties in the state, relationships with state lawmakers, the university’s relationship with the City of Moscow, and the importance research and teaching.

“Great teachers make all the difference,” Green said. “When we think back about our memories of going to college, it’s those great instructors that we all remember.”

Green begins July 1, and he says that in the meantime he will hold meetings, set up working groups, and have conversations to be able to hit the ground running.

“I’m not coming in with a brand new strategy,” Green said. “I’m going to take the one we’ve got and refocus it a bit. I think it’s pretty broad, and there’s way too many metrics. We need to focus on some key metrics that we can actually move.”

One move has already been made. Vandal Athletics has reached out to supporters, saying “Show your support for president-elect Scott Green’s vision and mission. Make a gift today to the Vandal Scholarship Fund in honor of the University of Idaho’s 19th president.”

Posted April 14, 2019

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