In what he described as one of the more pleasant State of the State addresses he's had the privilege to deliver since 2007, Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter spoke this afternoon of his two top priorities for this legislative session: jobs and education.
Gov. Otter described his inseparable focus on jobs and education as the locus of Idaho's commitment to spur economic growth and create more job opportunities—for both our citizens working here in Idaho and our veterans returning from their service abroad.
To that end, Gov. Otter reiterated his continued commitment to the success of the Students Come First reforms. His budget calls for fully funding Students Come First, including its technology and pay-for-performance elements, with what the Governor called his “modest but targeted and responsible” budget increase for K-12 education.
In addition, based on current revenue projections, the Governor proposed increasing funding for state and public school employee salaries by 3 percent. This increase would more than offset reductions to salary-based apportionment.
The Governor also expressed his continued desire to “ensure the success of our Idaho students in an increasingly complex, connected and competitive global marketplace. He reminded the audience, “When it comes to education, we cannot rely on the policies of the past to prepare our children for the possibilities of the future.”
The Governor wants our students to be prepared for all the world has to offer, and he’d like to see them find the great jobs and opportunities they dream of right here in Idaho. That’s why jobs and education go hand-in-hand.
The Governor also expressed his desire to see our colleges prosper, requesting the full funding of enrollment growth at Idaho’s universities, colleges, and community colleges, as well as funding the cost of moving into and operating new facilities on their campuses. He also highlighted the selflessness of NIC and CSI as they deferred their share of an additional $1 million in funding proposed for FY 2013 so that CWI could receive that full sum to fund the exciting and explosive growth of its job training programs.
Governor Otter commended the work of the IEN, which has successfully connected all of Idaho’s 194 high schools to the internet a year ahead of schedule and 16 percent under budget. Internet access is a powerful component of Students Come First that unlocks the power and opportunities of distance learning.
Superintendent Tom Luna was pleased with the priority Governor Otter placed on education in Idaho.
“The Governor delivered great news today,” Superintendent Luna said after the speech. “He clearly demonstrated his ongoing commitment to education. We have a path forward to fully fund Students Come First, financially rewarding our hard-working teachers and providing equal access and opportunity to every student no matter where they live in Idaho. In addition to that, everyone is excited we will be able to increase funding for public schools for the first time in four years.”