Gov. Otter signs two education-reform bills into law

By Brian Murphy

Gov. Butch Otter signed Senate Bills 1108 and 1110 into law Thursday morning. The bills are the first two parts of state schools superintendent Tom Luna's "Students Come First" education-reform package. He did not hold a public signing.

Otter was listed as a co-sponsor of the legislation. SB 1108 changes the law when it comes to negotiations between local school districts and teachers' unions and does away with continuing contracts for new teachers. SB 1110 implements a pay-for-performance plan.

"I had the privilege of signing into law today two bills that have been a long time coming, have been publicly vetted and debated to an unprecedented degree, and will improve the ability of our public schools to fulfill their mission of educating Idaho’s children," Otter said in a release from his office.

SB 1113, the final part of Luna's reform package, is stalled in the Senate Education Committee. A new version of the bill is expected to be introduced Friday in the Senate State Affairs Committee.

"Our work is not done. We are committed to continuing our work with lawmakers and stakeholders on legislation to provide students and educators with the technology and flexibility they need to be successful in an increasingly competitive world," Otter said.

The new bill will have significant changes, according to lawmakers:

From the Associated Press: For instance, a provision that would have eliminated 770 classroom teachers and boosted class sizes is gone, leaving decisions over how to allocate state funding - and how many teachers to retain - up to local school districts.

The requirement that students take online courses will be stricken, Senate Education Committee Chairman John Goedde adds, with the Board of Education instead directed to draft rules governing policy on how the Internet will figure in the classroom in coming years.

And while the legislation still foresees ninth-graders eventually receiving laptops, teachers will be the first to get them starting in 2013, with training to use them.

From Gov. Butch Otter's office:


BOISE – Governor C. L. “Butch” Otter issued the following statement today after signing Senate Bills 1108 and 1110 into law, completing the first two-thirds of his effort with Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna to enact their Students Come First proposals for Idaho public schools.

“I had the privilege of signing into law today two bills that have been a long time coming, have been publicly vetted and debated to an unprecedented degree, and will improve the ability of our public schools to fulfill their mission of educating Idaho’s children. But our work is not done. We are committed to continuing our work with lawmakers and stakeholders on legislation to provide students and educators with the technology and flexibility they need to be successful in an increasingly competitive world."

Democratic response

From legislative Democrats:

Democrats Question Governor Otter on Funding of Education Bills

BOISE — Idaho’s Democratic legislators are calling on Governor Otter to justify signing Senate bill 1110 which lacks a funding mechanism because that legislation (SB 1113) has failed to garner the support needed for passage.

“Governor Otter has always touted his credentials as a fiscal conservative so it begs the question how he can sign a bill that mandates up to $50 million per year in costs without adequate funding during the worst fiscal crisis in the history of Idaho’s system of public instruction,” said Senate Minority Leader Edgar Malepeai.

Senator Malepeai is a retired teacher who sits on the Senate Education Committee and has opposed the Otter/Luna plan since its unilateral inception.

House Minority Leader John Rusche said, "We try to teach our kids not only math and reading, but collaboration, communication, planning and responsibility. I do not see those attributes in these bills from the Republican Governor and Superintendent Luna."

Democrats remain dismayed by the passage of legislation that strips away the mechanism that for decades has successfully unified teachers with school district administrators through a collaborative process that enhanced the workplace environment that is your child’s classroom.

“The Superintendent and Governor have talked about how we can no longer continue to ‘cannibalize’ our system of education,” said House Minority Caucus Chair Brian Cronin. “This term couldn’t be more appropriate for what we’re doing with this bill: robbing education and cutting teacher jobs and salaries in order to pay teachers a nominal bonus. It not only doesn’t add up but it doesn’t make any logical sense.”

“It’s disappointing there was no political will to conduct a respectful dialog about this sweeping overhaul of public education,” said Senator Michelle Stennett, Minority Caucus Chair. “Teachers were not a part of the planning process and many will lose their jobs, yet they are being told that we value them and will pay for their performance when there is no money to make good on this disingenuous promise."

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Depending on the wording of the final bill; the R's have successfully busted the teachers union and pushed funding (IT WILL BE A TAX INCREASE) to the local school districts. Bah humbug!


True that

Interesting there was no press conference or fanfare. The sure sign of a guilty conscience. He's a little sheepish of the consequences.

Unions are destroying our country

Look what Unions have done for almost every major industry in the United States. Look at Detroit Michigan. NYC... California... Unions are like locust or Lampreys... they suck the life out of the host... Unions are a horror story.

Good job Governor. True leadership takes courage. Thanks for not buckling to the will of a few leftist, America haters.

please elaborate

How is looking out for workers, not rich people, hating America?

Corporate America is the problem

Larry Johnston sucked the life out of Albertsons. I'm sorry, that wasn't the unions; it was selfish CEOs. And that kind of lack of concern for the middle class is the problem with America. It is certainly NOT any union.

And Otter falsely claims that these bills have been debated, discussed, and vetted. It was handled behind closed door. His lack of leadership, and the lack of leadership of house and senate republicans, has stifled debate and discourse.

btw, just because you listen to someone with a different point of view, you aren't "buckling;" it's called listening. And it doesn't make you leftist or a hater; just reasonable.

And when will they start on the cops and fire fighter's unions?

Probably they will never touch the police union. After all, when and if the people awaken, they will need the police to "keep order"that is protect the wealthy and privileged. How stupid are Idahoans that we continue to support these corporate lap dog Republicans against our own economic and social interests.

Police and fire fighters are next . . .

The bill has already been introduced by Shirley McKague for consideration next year.


It'll will have to be re-introduced next session. Legislation does not carry over from one session to the next. It'll be a new bill next session -- and coming from McKague who can't seem to remember diddly will be questionable. She's a pawn; someone is telling her what to do and how to vote. Watch her on the floor of the senate. She's past her prime.

I don't quite understand the point

of introducing legislation with the deliberate intention of not considering it this year. What's to gain by that?

Reading between the lines . . .

it's all so mysterious - yet transparent - at the same time.

“I’m expecting the unions to holler,” said McKague, who said she’d bring back the plan next year. “It probably won’t be passed next year, but it needs to be discussed, in a friendly manner hopefully.” McKague said there’s no vendetta behind the plan, which explicitly says that the state would promote harmonious and cooperative relationships between the government and its workers. The committee agreed to introduce the plan, but it’s not certain the lawmakers would support it next year. “This bill comes as quite a surprise,” Sen. Chuck Winder, R-Boise said. “I would have some serious questions I’d want to have answered about what you’re trying to accomplish and what’s the problem here.”

Senator Winder - Why don't you answer your own question with what's going on right NOW with Idaho's teachers? You are a true hypocrite.

Probably firefighters, but Police, not so much...

Politicians always make sure they keep the cops happy. Because as a politician, you have to be sure someone is available to crack skulls when people start protesting in mass against you. Cops are usually happy to take on the role of baton twirler when it really hits the fan. I have said it before and I'll say it again, politicians don't mess with an armed constituency, like cops. The Police unions will be the only unions left.

Unions Are Evil...

and that is for one very good reason: they are not controlled by the locals. Locals are the subordinate creatures of the national organization and subject to the leftist/socialist ideologies of its criminal bosses. Abuses are legendary. Union bosses have murdered, beaten, lied to and stolen from the very people they pretend to represent. They are out of control. In this case, they are bankrupting school districts. The only way to retrieve control of local school district finances is to de-legitimize the teacher's union and limit so called "rights". It is passed time. There is no reason teachers should have job security beyond any other public employee and therefore the abomination known as tenure must go. This is a very good first step that the Governor and legislature has taken. I hope it isn't the last.

You are deluded

Please provide some pertinent examples complete with evidence of how that has played out in Idaho.

"Passed"? Really?

One example

Heather has Two Mommies.

Evidently, one of them stole your teddy bear and made u cry...

"No his mind is not for rent, to any god or government." Neil Peart


How what has played out, sissyphus? Our states' ranking nationally on common testing, the union's having strong-arm mentalities, ...?

Really, and how does good ole boy cronism compare?

.....And Johnny Clueless was there with his simulated woodgrain....

are you serious?

I don't remember teachers murdering, beating, stealing and lying to the people they "pretend" to represent

Line those pockets Butchy!

Line those pockets Butchy! Maybe Luna will give you a reach-around for his share!


Long over due. Now local property owners can vote and local school boards can manage their respective school districts as best suits the goals.


Well said!

Right …

… and between Tom and Teresa Luna and Butch Otter, the purse strings are tightly in hand. The shortfall in funding sure does allow local property owners and voters more independence. Let them fire teachers and cut budgets for maintenance, supplies and sundry programs. As of now, 60% of funding comes from the state and 30% from local taxes/levies (about 10% from the Fed). We'll see how that plays out as state funds are diverted to prisons and corporate tax breaks/subsidies and other favored interests. Yup! Local autonomy is sure going to be expensive.

unfunded mandates

So the state is already stretching to meet the budget and now Otter has signed a bill with an unfunded mandate. The third bill, which is being reintroduced, has remove the funding for the teacher merit pay.

Smokescreen step one complete!

Smokescreen step one in busting the three largest collective bargaining bodies in the state accomplished. Two to go. Once accomplished, PERSI pension funds can be raided!

Anyone looking at a career in law enforcement, firefighting, or education- you should get out now.

If you live in Idaho, you have a future community to look forward to that will not attract quality people in these fields. Sounds like a great place to raise a family doesn't it.

On the other hand, if you want to exploit cheap labor, the long term plan probably sounds great. All hail anti-intellectualism!

Police and firefighters...

...prove themselves capable daily! They don't stand around crying and whining every year for fat raises, although Lord knows, they would deserve it, and they don't brain wash kids to beg for them either!!

Yes, they do...

They are hard working people that do a great service to the public. Teachers are just whiny cry-babies that don't care at all for anyone but themselves...this is why they went into education. This way, they can make their millions every year working only a couple of months clocking in at 9 am and clocking out at 4 pm. Wait, never mind...I forgot they are college educated people as well that care deeply for children and the community. Their salary is one most people would never consider...especially for the hard work and extra time they put in during the school year...oh, and because of the second and third job they have to have to supplement what they (don't) make. Yes, I'm aware that there are poor teachers out there that just slide by, but they are few and far between (and are dismissed because of it, contrary to popular conservative belief), and the vast majority are very good at what they do especially given the system in which they work. Xavier, I'd sure like to know what a teacher has done to you to make you so full of hate against our educators.

He is not the only one

Xavier isn't the only one very pleased to see these 2 pieces of legislation enacted into law. The ongoing public dismay has been for decades with frustrated school boards unable to manage their districts because of IEA. Now they can.

Education salaries are comparable with the quality of the product for 190 days of employment a year. Remember those base salaries you need to add vacation, sick leave and personal leave, CLE seminars, health insurance, substitutes, retirement contributions, etc. Those salaries cost the school district far more than you think for 190 days of employment with a below par work product. We are in the bottom in the nation and the nation is in the bottom of the global society. Past time for a change; long past time; long over due.

Would you continue to pay an employee for working 190 days while the work product was inferior and be hamstrung by union as to your business product?

Educate yourself

Take a look at how much a Meridian Joint School District teacher has to pay a month for benefits if they add their family to it. Then look at the benefits. Not too hot. I hope you can back your statement of "inferior" product but something other than the numbers the conservatives constantly fling at us.

Teachers are not overpaid

This is one of the great myths of the right wing. We do not pay them enough, nor are they shown the respect they deserve. Most of the talented teachers will be gone in a few years. Idaho will come to wish that it could attract and retain even mediocre teachers.

If you must know...

I'm just totally sick and tired of hearing the whining and moaning, about how underpaid they are, year, after year, after year, after year, and how they shouldn't be accountable, for doing their job! In this economy, they should be tickled to have a job, and need to suck it up, like everyone else, in the private sector is currently doing!

I didn't say a word...

about them being "underpaid"...I merely stated a fact...that most people won't go into education because of the low salary. Don't start putting words into my mouth. Nor did I say a word about them not wanting to be accountable. Find a fair way to hold them accountable for things they can control and they would be more than happy to accept accountability. Trust me...most of them are "tickled" to have a very difficult job that many are now demonizing them for, even though they are doing the best they can. Of course educators are unhappy about possibly losing some of their salary...wouldn't you be? Wouldn't you fight not to have someone cut your salary in the private sector? As I have asked before...educate yourself on what you are posting before you post.

getting paid for sleeping

Actually, they do beg for their raises, through their unions, and they also get paid overtime. I'll bet dollars to donuts that any teacher would trade their summers off to receive time and a half overtime for the hours they put in preparing lessons, grading papers, meeting with parents, collaborating with other teachers, etc. ad infinitum. Teachers might get summers off, but they don't get paid for sleeping.

Now ya get it.... just described teachers! You do understand....good boy!

Thank you Governor...

..Mr. Luna, and lawmakers, who made this happen!

They SURE did...

....nothin' like blind obedience. The one's who need to be congratulated are the lawmakers who saw these bills for what they were. THEY are the real representatives of their districts!

"He did not hold a public signing . . . "

. . . says it all. What an unbelievable coward.

Good Job Butch!

That's what we elected you for!

Idaho is already so far behind the 8 ball in education, and

these changes will more likely than not make us lag even further behind. But the good news is that a few more selfish people can save some money on their taxes. Why should the urban school districts suffer to accomodate the backwards rural culture of Idaho? Do you really want the selfish locals with that much control. Scrooge McDuck and Silas Marner on the school boards. They will fire the football coach on a whim and cut the local budget so all the farmers can get a new f-150. This is may be cheaper but it is not better

The FOOTBALL COACH is a seperate contract,...

And even if the coach were the english teacher his contract is not a collective bargaining position.


You must be lucky to be in the state I was born in!

You have no concept

Frank, You have no concept of the legislation. Explain how urban schools will suffer.

BTW, backwards culture of rural Idaho. You are welcome to leave -- don't let the door hit you where it should. Do you have any idea of the cost of farm equipment -- you're spouting without facts or merit.

It is local options and local control and it is good for Idaho.

I don't live in rural Idaho

There is a backwards culture to rural Idaho. Its good for the postcards and agricultural interests, but it does not have the best interest of the majority of its citizens in mind. Boise and the other urban centers gets shafted by these rural lawmakers and their simple thoughts at every turn. Butch can wear all the cowboy hats he wants it does not make his decision making any better. This is bad day for education. Time for the country mouse to go home and leave the city mice alone. You stay in the sticks with your expensive farm equipment and I'll stay in town, although I need to avoid the concealed guns at the university brought about as the result of another piece of bonehead legislation by the backwards culture

Good Day!

The will of the majority of the people in this state was signed into law today. Democracy at work, its a beautiful thing.

Nice Try

That is complete BS and you know it. The real majority (working Idaho families) do not support any of this legislation.

well deserved

The people of Idaho deserve this! You vote for Republicans to lead and they will lead themselves to the money. It is ok that the K12 corporation will now get Idaho tax money. It is ok that teachers will no longer have contracts which protect them from incompetent administrators and school boards without a clue. It is ok that highly educated teachers will be evaluated by undeducated parents with dysfunctional kids. It is ok that the money spent by teachers in the Idaho economy will now go out of state along with 700 plus middle income jobs. The people of Idaho deserve it. They voted for it, or did they? They were deceived.
Luna spoke highly of the Idaho Education system before he was elected, then after he was elected it was suddenly broken. It will be interesting to see how he spins it in a year when he is the laugh of the nation, and he will be! good luck Idaho..dig deeeeep for the tax money at the local level...


Is he joking?

"two bills that have been a long time coming???!!!" This was the biggest bait and switch of all time. There was not a murmur of these plans during the election - it was completely sprung on us out of nowhere. I have a hard time believing Luna would have been elected if people had any clue what was up his sleeve.

Oh Dear Oh Dear Oh

Oh Dear Oh Dear Oh Dear............

If the Governor believes

That those bills were publicly vetted then I've got beach front property in N. Dakota he might want to purchase. This has got to be the biggest crock perpetrated on the people of Idaho since the repeal of term limits. But since Butch won't be running for election after this and will be moving on to the high paying job of lobbyist he has already earned his first paycheck from his supporters.

international achievement scores

Did anybody notice that we scored in the middle of the international testing groups? Not surprising, but did anyone notice what the most important factor was for the countries that scored the highest? The higher the teacher salaries, the higher the student scores. Think about it. Schools can compete with business for the best college students, and competition for teaching jobs is intense. In South Korea, educators are referred to as "Nation-builders", in Idaho, we call them, "Labor".


Just like Socrates when he discussed his termagant wife, you provide me with the opportunity to practice my virtue of patience with the ignorant (ig nosis).


Go sling mud, it's a right-to-work job. The Repubs are hiring.