Idaho's former chief economist -- thorn in Otter's side -- to speak to League of Women Voters Feb. 16 in Meridian

Mike Ferguson, Idaho's chief economist for 25 years, got Gov. Butch Otter to admit last month that the state probably wasn't meeting its constitutional obligation to “maintain a general, uniform and thorough system of public, free common schools.”

Ferguson served under Democratic Govs. John Evans and Cecil Andrus and Republicans Otter, Phil Batt, Dirk Kempthorne and Jim Risch. He now directs the Idaho Center for Fiscal Policy, which says support for Idaho schools has fallen by a fifth since 2000. The center says after decades of funding schools at roughly 4.4 percent of personal income, the figure fell to 3.5 percent in fiscal 2013. Meanwhile, school districts are increasingly relying on voter-approved supplemental property tax levies, which rose from $140 million to $169 million this year.

A news release from the League of Women Voters follows:
Will Idaho’s budget fund education adequately? What is the impact if the personal property tax is no longer assessed? Will existing business tax exemptions be evaluated? The League of Women Voters of Idaho will host a dinner event featuring Mike Ferguson, Director of the Idaho Center for Fiscal Policy, and former Idaho Chief Economist, who will share his analysis of the state government spending, budgeting and fiscal policy.

Mike Ferguson served with six administrations in the Governor’s Budget Office as Idaho’s chief economist for 25 years. After retiring during the beginning of Governor Otter’s second term, Mike launched the non-partisan, non-profit Idaho Center for Fiscal Policy. The mission of the Idaho Center for Fiscal Policy is to provide Idaho citizens and elected officials with fact-based information and analysis they can use to make informed public policy decisions that will shape Idaho’s future for generations to come.

The League of Women Voters of Idaho invites the public to attend a dinner event to learn more about the important budget decisions facing Idaho’s legislators today and the potential impact on Idahoans and programs tomorrow.

Date of the dinner is Saturday, February 16, 2013, at Louie’s Pizza and Italian Restaurant, 2500 E. Fairview Ave., Meridian. Cost of the family style Italian dinner is $25 per person. A no host social hour will begin at 5:00 p.m. Dinner and program will follow. Reservations required.

Space is limited; RSVP early. Send check or money order to Kip Winter, 2408 Carnegie St., Caldwell, Idaho 83607. Paid reservations received by February 9, 2013 will receive a ticket for a door prize drawing. Questions? Call Chris Stokes, LWVID Secretary, at 208-286-7694.

The League of Women Voters, a nonpartisan political organization, encourages the informed and active participation in government, works to increase understanding of major public policy issues, and influences public policy through education and advocacy. Membership in the League is open to men and women of all ages. With more than 90 years of experience and 850 local and state affiliates, the League is one of America’s most trusted grassroots organizations.

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Ferguson should keep in mind

Ferguson should keep in mind the framers of Idaho constitution never envisioned the services, programs and educational cla s s es which are now taught in our schools. They never anticipated occupational therapists, speech therapists, nurses, grade school orchestra, mandarin chinese, principals, asst. principals, superintendent, asst. superintendents, etc. etc.

It is no wonder some parents are not involved in their children's education, the school has taken over with programs and services which should be the purview of the parents only.

A couple points

If the above numbers are correct, then school funding has dropped from 4.4 percent of personal income to 3.5 percent. That's a huge drop, and even Otter admits they are not funding it adequately.

As far as nurses, and therapists, and band being available, I have no problem paying for these services. It's not only about the three Rs, and some kids get hurt or sick or need special help. The parents can't be at school and work at the same time. (I'll give you the Mandarin and the top heavy admin cost points though.)

Roses, you may be recalling an earlier era,

when both parents didn't have to hold down paying jobs to make ends meet, when diversity in the classroom was ignored (to the detriment of those kids), and kids with special needs generally flunked out (to their detriment, too). Most parents do a great job now - but still rely on the services and specialties you cite to adequately prepare their actual children for real life.

And you should keep in mind

that most of these programs were instituted by lawsuits from parents. Do you understand that they are maintaining these court mandated programs on less and less funding? Your basic premise is flawed.

Please cite the lawsuits

Please cite the lawsuits which required the school district to implement these services and cla s s es.