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Governor Little offers preview of Monday’s State of the State address

Education

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Governor Brad Little | Courtesy IdahoEdNews.org

BOISE (IdahoEdNews.org) — Nobody really knows for sure what Gov. Brad Little will say Monday.

And Little is giving up very few any hints.

During the annual Associated Press Legislative Preview on Friday, Little promoted Monday’s upcoming State of the State address.

And in keeping with Statehouse tradition, Little declined to spoil his own show.

  • He didn’t prioritize the recommendations delivered by his “Our Kids, Idaho’s Future” education task force in November.
  • He didn’t say how much of a funding investment he would call for in K-12 public schools.
  • He didn’t dive into his teacher pay plans.
  • Instead, like a promoter hyping a prize fight, he asked Idahoans to stay tuned for Monday’s main event.

“My No. 1 passion is we’ve got to get kids reading proficiently by the end of third grade, and you might hear a little about that Monday,” said Little, a Republican who is beginning his second year as governor.

There will be a lot at stake when Little delivers his speech from the House floor at 1 p.m. Monday.

  • Idaho is coming off five consecutive years of $100 million or more in new spending for K-12 education.
  • There are five education task force recommendations on the table, some of which could cost tens of millions of dollars to implement.
  • Several legislators continue to call for replacing Idaho’s public school funding formula.
  • Higher education funding, and programming, remains uncertain.
  • A showdown over Common Core and academic standards appears to be brewing.
  • And, most importantly, money is tighter than it’s been in several years.

That means Little and legislators may have to jostle and compromising on funding priorities.

Although he is saving the big reveal for Monday, Little did mention several times that education will feature heavily in his 2020 agenda.

“The recommendations from the task force on education, that is a big part of it,” Little said.

Little also said he hopes to work with the State Board of Education and its new appointees, former state Sen. Shawn Keough and Boise businessman Kurt Liebich, to get things done on the higher education front. Little also called back to the year-old Huron consultants’ report and sounded a call to identify efficiencies and a “systemness” at Idaho colleges and universities.

After Little finished, Speaker of the House Scott Bedke, R-Oakley, ticked off a handful of issues that are likely to receive attention this year, including:

  • Administrative rules (Bedke didn’t elaborate, but the rules review will likely allow legislators to scrutinize academic standards and immunization rules).
  • Redistricting.
  • Citizen ballot initiatives.
  • Property taxes.
  • The education task force recommendations.
  • Transportation.

“This is going to be a very busy and I think very impactful session,” new House Minority Leader Ilana Rubel, D-Boise, said.

Idaho Public Television will broadcast the Governor’s speech live at 1 p.m. Monday.

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