Notecard: Tax cuts, graduation rates and the DeVos drama

Posted at 10:59 AM, Feb 03, 2017
and last updated 2017-02-03 12:59:25-05

The Idaho House debates tax cuts — and Betsy DeVos awaits a razor-thin vote on the floor of the U.S. Senate. This week’s talking points from the K-12 beat:

House passes tax cut. Voting along party lines, the House passed a bill to cut personal and corporate income taxes by $51 million. House Majority Leader Mike Moyle said his bill would not jeopardize education funding; House Democrats were skeptical. The bill now goes the Senate, which has scuttled other tax cuts in recent legislative sessions.

Waiting on the budget. This is the time of year when local school superintendents keep a watchful eye on the Statehouse — waiting to see the K-12 budget that passes the Legislature. Superintendents seem to like what they hear, especially when it comes to money for teacher pay raises. But they also want some clarity and closure in the debate over teacher evaluations and evaluations training. 

Graduation rates improve. For the second consecutive year, Idaho graduation rates went up slightly. The 2015-16 rate came in at 79.5 percent, up from 78.9 percent the previous year. National numbers aren’t yet available; in 2014-15, Idaho’s graduation rate ranked No. 39 in the nation. 

The DeVos vote. Betsy DeVos, President Trump’s controversial nominee for education secretary, faces a final vote on the Senate floor Monday or Tuesday. On Friday, an early-morning procedural motion set the stage for the final vote, with Mike Crapo and Jim Risch of Idaho joining fellow Republicans in a 52-48 party-line vote. However, the final vote could end in a 50-50 deadlock, with Vice President Mike Pence poised to cast a historic tiebreaking vote. 

Boise’s voter information effort. The Boise School District spent $11,400 producing and mailing fliers explaining its proposed $172.5 million bond issue. “It was made clear during the 2006 bond, 2012 levy and this bond election that we are allowed under the law to present factual information to the public,” district spokesman Dan Hollar said Thursday. Voters will decide on the Boise bond issue March 14, and several other districts have big-ticket requests on the ballot that day. 

Kevin Richert is a reporter and blogger with Idaho Education NewsIdaho Education News is an independent news site focused on K-12 policy and politics, funded by the J.A. and Kathryn Albertson Family Foundation. Richert has worked in the Idaho news media since 1985, as a reporter, editor and columnist.