When I write newsletters, I never know what you will be interested in. Last week, I wrote about what to do about the problem of transportation funding in Idaho. I got a great response! Many of you engaged with ideas I had not thought of or heard before. Nobody thought what we were doing was great. I plan to use your ideas whenever the topic is discussed. Thank you!
Big News for School Funding
I think we really had a breakthrough on the new school funding formula! As you know, we have been talking about this for weeks. My primary focus has been on solving the funding disaster that was headed for Orofino schools, but also for Mullan District 392. We have an agreement, based on language in the bill, to move Orofino from a $1.37 million loss per year to a $150,000 gain per year! Now that’s a difference! And, it is not costing the state more money, it is reshuffling current funding.
I will tell you that I didn’t do it alone. Mike Garrett, the Superintendent in Orofino, was a big player in this.
As for Mullan, they were projected to lose $139,000 under the new formula, compared to where they are now. We have been able to put them in a position to have $31,000 more dollars than they have now. Not as big a number as Orofino, but a big deal in a small school trying valiantly to serve its community.
Now, this will not happen if the funding formula legislation does not pass. There are plenty of more things to fix in this bill, but I had no interest in discussing other things until the money part was solved.
More to come….
Wolf Depredation Control
We had an interesting vote Friday on wolves. They have been a hot topic since the idea of introducing them to Idaho after they had been pretty much eliminated due to their incompatible interactions with man.
Sportsmen and stockmen do not like wolves because of their interest in eating the sportsmen’s game, and the stockman’s livelihood. But the public wanted to restore some sort of balance to the environment.
Anyway, as part of the reintroduction agreement, stockman and sportsmen would each put up about $100,000 and the public would contribute $400,000 annually. This money would be supervised by a Wolf Control Board.
The wolf population expanded dramatically, and the wolf damage did too. But each year, when the funding was discussed, there were people trying to keep the public from holding up their end of the bargain.
This year the there was a vote on the continuing of the Wolf Control Board. At the end of the day all Republicans and two Democrats in the Senate supported to continue wolf control in Idaho. Of course, changes will be made to the effort, hopefully less regulation, and the effort can be more effective at controlling problem wolves.
Idaho Cattle Association at the Capitol
The Idaho Cattle Association held its annual prime rib lunch for legislators. It was a great time to see old friends and meet some of the new directors. An interesting fact: currently there are five past presidents of the Idaho Cattle Association who have been elected to the Idaho Legislature. Including your Senator!
Governor Little’s brother and sister are also past presidents of the Idaho Cattle Association.
Kind of amazing, and unprecedented to have any organization have that many elected leaders in the Legislature. Agriculture is still strong in Idaho!
You Now Have More Influence in Boise
On Friday, I was elected to serve Idaho on the Idaho Legislative Council. The Council makes legislative decisions, not policy decisions, during the off season when the legislature is out of town. It is comprised of Pro Tempore of the Senate, the Senate Majority leader, the Speaker of the House, the House Majority Leader, and two Republican and two Democratic members of each body.
I was elected by the Senate Majority Caucus (all Republican senators), from a group of four candidates. I really appreciate the confidence my peers have in me. I look forward to serving in an increased leadership capacity.
Not All the Work Down Here Requires Legislation
Sometimes legislators serve in some very strange ways. There was a major disagreement brewing over certification of teachers. Now we are short on teachers in Idaho. Sometimes people retire from business and want to share their skills through the teaching profession. To do this, they have to have credentials to be a teacher. There are a couple of private companies who provide these certifications. One of those certifying groups was concerned they would be treated unfairly through the Department of Education and the Board of Education certifying process.
I volunteered to help solve this problem. I put on my referee shirt and sat all parties down together. We were able to all agree on a solution…it wasn’t really easy! But at the end of the day, a fair agreement on the certification review process will happen.