LEGISLATIVE NEWSLETTER V—February 13-19/2011
For those of you interested in the background of the history and development of SPI Luna's Educational Reform Plan, I have two attachments which may be of interest to you. The first came to me from Gary Smith who has written about the connections and growing influence of corporations targeting the education market. The second attachment traces the connections between SPI Luna, Bill Bennett's K-12 Education Company, and Tom Wolford, Executive Director of the Albertson from Randy Stapilus. There were also two major articles about SPI Tom Luna's connection with the private educational corporate world in the Idaho Statesman today.
1. Budget--The budget figures continue to change on almost a daily basis. The budget for FY12 is projected on an estimated 3 percent growth rate. It appears that there will be at this point potential cuts of almost $80 million in public education, $10 million for Higher Education and $35 million for Medicaid.
2. Silence of the Lambs--The State Board of Education according to the Idaho State Constitution is charged to provide for the general governance, supervision, and control of all state educational institutions, and control of all state educational system. So where was the State Board when SPI Luna made his announcement for major educational reform on January 12th. President of the Board, Russ Westerberg, when asked how much involvement the Board had in the development of the Plan reported to the combined House and Senate Education Committees, "None!!" One has to ask one's self how a State Board of Education charged with oversight over K-12 education never had a clue about the Luna Plan. One would have thought that Mr. Luna might have dropped a word or two to a board member sometime before the announcement. In the military they would have called this "dereliction of duty."
But then one has to remember who the Shepherd of the flock is. None of the Colleges of Education or Presidents of the Idaho institutions of Higher Education were ever consulted. The President of the Idaho School Boards also stated, "We only learned about the Plan when the announcement was made. The same is true for the PTA and School Administrators. The evidence is overwhelming that none of the key stakeholders in the education community were consulted. The entire process is, therefore, terribly flawed and the issue of "due process" can certainly be brought forth.
3. Are Idaho Taxpayers Subsidizing Large Corporation Megaloads on Highway 12? This is a question that a group of us asked Idaho Dept. of Transportation employees at a meeting in May. Their answer was, "there is no way that the $2,000 per load permit can cover ITDs technical, legal, and administrative costs." I wrote ITDs Director, Brian Ness, in November. In a three page letter he indicated that such an analysis had not yet been completed. Since November I've made four further inquiries to the question with no response. I am forced to conclude that Idaho taxpayer is subsidizing the cost of everyone of the megaloads traveling on Highway 12. There is also a question posed that the hundreds of proposed megaloads may negatively impact the value of private property along Highway 12. Several real estate agents have made this claim. Therefore, it would seem reasonable that the International Corporations should provide some compensation to property owners in the claim is verified. Estimates by some real estate agents indicate a drop in value of property along Highway 12 of from 20-50%. If this occurs then the negative impact on property taxes for the counties will be substantial.
4. Nullification--A bill supporting Idaho's right to Nullify the National Health Care Plan passed the House on a 49-20 vote. The Legislature during the last session passed a Freedom from the National Health Care Plan resolution. Idaho was joined with more than 20 states and this litigation is moving through the court system. I supported the resolution and we should leave it in the hands of our legal system. In the meanwhile both political parties agree that it is important to provide medical insurance for 50 million uninsured. Both parties also agree on a number of components of the National Health Plan as being beneficial to the country. This is really the way we need to work rather than fire off shots like supporting a nullification effort. Idaho Attorney Lawrence Wadsen issued an opinion that the nullification effort was unconstitutional both at the National and State level and a violation of a legislators' oath of office in swearing to uphold the Constitution.
I voted against the bill. About 80 percent of constituents who contacted me were opposed to the legislation. If carried out to a logical conclusion, cities and counties who receive unfunded mandates from the State Legislature should be allowed claim nullification rights as well.
5. HB111 which would have allowed tribal police officers to function as police officers under state law if they have all of the required training and insurance and cite all non-tribal criminal offenders into state court and not tribal court was defeated by one vote. The debate took over 2 hours. The strange thing about this legislation is that relations with the Coeur d'Alene Tribe and Kootenai law enforcement have been working well for years but there are constant problems between the tribe and Benewah County law enforcement and residents. I received 175 e mails on this bill but only three from Latah County.
I voted for the bill.
6. There is a strong rumor circulating that SPI Tom Luna is positioning himself for a run at the Governorship in 2014.
That's all for this week. Please contact me with your comments and recommendations. My phone is 208 332-1184 and
e mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Rep. Tom Trail
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