As of Monday, January 25, 2016
BOISE The Idaho Legislature kicked off its session with the State of the State address and civil discourse training last week.
Following Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter’s address last Monday, Jan. 11, Senator Sheryl Nuxoll (R, Cottonwood), District 7, said the governor’s proposed expenditures, including a 7.9 percent increase to the state’s education budget could impact her region in the coming legislative session.
“I think that education is extremely important because of our youth,” Nuxoll said. “But the details in some of the spending are very important, because money isn’t necessarily the answer to every issue.”
Gov. Otter said Idaho now has the financial means to keep promises made during the Great Recession that the state is duty-bound to fulfill.
His plan redirects cigarette and tobacco taxes into funding for education, which includes $12 million dollars toward STEM programs, $38 million toward teachers’ salaries, and funding for two scholarships including the new “Completion Scholarship” targeted toward Idaho citizens with some post-secondary education who wish to return to the classroom.
Nuxoll said she hopes to see a tax decrease, especially for her rural district where she says citizens are suffering from a lack of occupations.
“I see a huge issue there with all the spending that the executive branch wants to implement,” Nuxoll said.
Nuxoll and the rest of the legislature also attended civil discourse training on Jan. 12, hosted by the National Institute for Civil Discourse.
Executive director, Carolyn J. Lukensmeyer referenced general political science trends, saying now is the most uncivil time in American history since the end of the Civil War.
Lukensmeyer said Tuesday’s training was the first time the institute has ever trained an entire state legislature at their own request.
Many legislators, including senators Steve Bair (R), District 31, and Jim Guthrie (R), District 28, agreed the Idaho legislature was civil to begin with.
“It really should have been a course in charity, because that’s what it was - just a course in charity,” Nuxoll said.
The Idaho legislative session continues this week with a focus on health and human services in the Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee.