A legislative panel in Idaho introduced a plan that promoters say combines the best of last year’s attempts to address the state’s constitutional obligation to ensure the safety of its public school facilities.
The House Ways and Means Committee, made up primarily of Republican and Democratic leaders, voted unanimously to have the bill printed and assigned to the Education Committee for further consideration.
Sponsored by Assistant GOP Floor Leader Lawerence Denney of Midvale, the three-year proposal would provide state funding of debt service on voter-approved, property-tax financed commercial loans addressing school health and safety problems.
Supporters said it offers the potential to use $10 million in state funds allocated last year to leverage more than $75 million in school financing.
The bill represents the House’s primary response to 4th District Judge Deborah Bail’s recent ruling in the Idaho Schools for Equal Educational Opportunity lawsuit that the state’s system for complying with its constitutional safety mandate is woefully inadequate.
House approval of the plan seems likely, but support is more uncertain in the Senate where Education Chairman Gary Schroeder of Moscow, Sen. Darrel Deide of Caldwell, and others have their own ideas about how to help financially strapped school districts meet their facilities needs and satisfy the judge’s requirements.