Be thankful we’re not getting all the government we’re paying for.

Will Rogers

When I got elected to this job, I was counseled to not get on the finance committee or the education committee…I did both!

They are both highly explosive committees with lots of emotion involved, and March is when all the daggers come out.

Hey, nobody said this job would be easy!

And remember last week’s email when I said people would work to convince you that my votes mean something they don’t? Well, you’ve heard a lot from others.

How about hearing it from me? 

Higher Education Budget

This was the one many legislators were filing their teeth for, last summer and beyond. Let’s face it, higher education is in a politically unpopular place right now. Many can’t afford it and jobs aren’t a guarantee. Yet, when we needed a COVID-19 vaccine, or wanted to send equipment to Mars, we called upon graduates of higher education. We still need these graduates, and we need them badly.

The bill I proposed and passed through the Finance committee with 16-3 in favor vote, would penalize Boise State University for their publicly funded social justice programs that the legislature has complained about for at least two years, by taking over $400,000  from their budget for these programs. We got to this number by asking BSU to tell us the number of programs or positions that were directly funded by public dollars. 

This same bill will provide Lewis-Clark State College $400,000 so they won’t have to raise tuition, and it gives them more money for their nursing program. Most legislators think LCSC is on target.

This bill will require all four universities to report their public spending on social justice by January of next year.

Finally, the bill directs the State Board of Education to provide a “pick list,” so students can opt out of certain student fees that they feel do not contribute to their degree or overall college experience. 
The legislation I proposed seems reasonable to most, but not as far as some like to go in either direction. 

Early Childhood Learning Bill

There was a bill a lot of people were interested in last week that dealt with the problem we have with kids coming to school unprepared.

It turns out that 60% of the kids entering school are not prepared. I think it is primarily due to the changes of the family unit and economic factors that are forcing parents to work more. But that’s the reality. We all wish for the perfect family environment. Something must be done. It may sound extreme, but we talk about our prisons being overflowing and in many cases we can trace it back to an inadequate start in the early learning environment.  

Idaho applied for and received a grant from President Trump’s administration. Many of you believe he showed us good leadership and would never promote something that was intended to have a social justice agenda. You trust President Trump!

The major focus of the grant is to increase parental awareness, knowledge, choice for kids who are involved in some sort of child care program so they can have reading material. It is local people that make the decisions and all the grant does is provide support and help so people know where to go access the money to get reading materials.

There has been a ton of information sent out from a group that doesn’t like the grant. But that doesn’t make what they sent out factual. It’s misinformation. The goal of the grant is to improve school readiness and early literacy for young children. It does not dictate what kids read, nor does it dictate “social justice theory or gender quality theories”. It’s about providing access to reading and literacy materials to be used at home with parents or at childcare centers because parents are working. No hidden motives or agendas. Just reading help for kids before they hit kindergarten. Parents are a part of the process and decision making too, and it is optional!

Now about the group that worked to get the grant. Idaho AEYC is a charitable organization. They are funded by foundations, grants, and private individuals. They are a professional membership organization for early childhood educators. Membership is solely voluntary. And those that can access money from the grant would be churches, community daycares, libraries, schools, etc. 

In 2020, Idaho AEYC partnered with the State Board of Education to apply for and receive the grant. Again, it’s about strengthening the transition from early childhood education to our K-12 system (public, private and charter). The State Board of Education has the ultimate responsibility making sure the grant meets the requirements. All dollars will be accounted for in a transparent way. 

I did and do support the action of the grant because I support reading. Reading shouldn’t be political and for some reason that’s how some groups want it to be. There’s no trick here. 

That’s, probably more than enough for today!