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School bullies aren't all juveniles

Lee Rozen
March 29, 2013
Moscow-Pullman Daily News

It looks like the question is: How many state senators do you have to bully to get your way on the $1.3 billion Idaho education budget for fiscal year 2014?

One man really knows the answer. He's state Sen. John Goedde, R-Coeur d'Alene, and chairman of the Senate Education Committee.

He knows because he had to do the bullying.

He had to do it, you see, because state Sen. Dean Cameron, R-Rupert, apparently didn't show him what he considered the proper respect.

Neither did the Cameron-chaired Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee that develops spending bills for both houses of the Legislature and recommended the budget by a 15-5 vote. Nor did the House of Representatives, which passed JFAC's bill 52-16.

Even after those votes, which you might say indicated broad support for the budget plan, Goedde stomped his feet because the bill hadn't gone through his committee. His feet landed on some toes, and the Senate defeated the bill Wednesday on an 18-17 vote.

As a result, the Legislature will be in session for several more days at a cost to Idaho taxpayers of tens of thousands of dollars, because Goedde felt disrespected.

Goedde says he is upset also because the bill that was headed for approval would have restored some raises that teachers get for experience, responsibility and education. He wanted the budget to allocate more money, instead, to help school districts pay for lights and heat. Lights and heat are good things to have, we certainly won't argue with that, and the state Supreme Court has said the Legislature has to do a better job of funding them.

Cameron pointed out that the head of the House Education and both the teachers union and the school boards association - who often disagree - supported the budget his committee wrote.

No doubt it's not a perfect budget. A perfect budget would fill all the schools' needs without raising taxes. Well, that's not going to happen.

But it makes more sense for the state to fund adequate teacher salaries, and if needs be, leave school district special levies to be used for the time being to fix buildings and pay for utilities.

Originally posted at

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