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Higher Education Budget Dies as Legislators Debate What is Being Taught at Idaho Colleges/Universities

By • April 8, 2021

Update: Rep. Randy Armstrong (R-Inkom) responded to our request for comment with the following statement:

I had spoken at length to President Saterlee.  He assured me that there were no critical race theory indoctrinations at ISU.  Armed with that information and assurance I committed to vote in favor of the appropriation.

When it came on the floor and the sponsor strangely asked everyone to vote against it, I was in a bit of a quandary.  I didn’t have the chance to contact the President and I felt it was important to keep my word to the him rather than go along with the crowd. So I voted in favor.

I will now look at the new appropriation bill and discuss it with the President before I make a new commitment or vote.

Update: Sen. Carl Crabtree (R-Grangeville) responded to our request for comment with the following comment:

I have no problem with the failure of the bill, it was written about 6 weeks ago, and much has changed for the worse since then. We must recalculate.

Original article below.


The Idaho legislature is back in session after a rare recess which gave them a two-week break while several members recovered from Covid-19.

A number of issues are still being debated and voted on. One of those issues is the “higher education budget.”

The appropriation bill before the Idaho House yesterday was Senate Bill 1179. The bill had previously passed the Senate on a vote of 27-6.

Today, the House took up SB 1179 and after a lengthy and heated debate ended up killing the bill on a vote of 13-57 after the bill sponsor requested that the bill be voted against.

Two Republicans joined the Democrats in trying to pass the bill which was Rep. Randy Armstrong (R-Inkom) and Rep. Caroline Troy (R-Genesee).

Idaho Dispatch reached out to both Armstrong and Troy for comment on why they dissented from the remainder of the Republicans. We have not yet received a comment at the time of this writing.

The higher education budget has been an issue in recent weeks pushed by the Idaho Freedom Foundation (IFF). The organization has been running radio ads during the legislative recess targeting the budget of the universities and SB 1179 specifically.

Idaho Dispatch asked IFF’s Vice President, Dustin Hurst, about SB 1179 and the bill dying in the Idaho House yesterday. Here is what Hurst sent us:

Senate Bill 1179 would have let Idaho’s public colleges and universities continue to indoctrinate young people to become left-wing political activists. The House did the right thing by killing the bill. Now, will the budget committee finally listen to the wishes of Idahoans who don’t want a dime of taxpayer money to fund the woke agenda?

Let’s hope budget writers get it right this time.

During the debate itself, the floor sponsor, Rep. Paul Amador (R-Coeur d’Alene) told the body that while the appropriations bill had been drafted six weeks ago, things have changed. With that, Amador asked the legislative body to give the bill a “red light” which means he was asking the House to vote against his own bill and to send the bill back to the Joint Appropriations Finance Committee to re-draft it.

That request spurred a debate on the bill the lasted for an hour.

Rep. Brent Crane (R-Nampa) was the first to debate the bill. Crane read an email from a Boise State University student who said that only one side of an issue is allowed to be discussed.

Crane closed by saying,

Mr. Speaker, I know this budget’s gonna die. But I’m asking the folks, when they go into JFAC, that they call those college presidents forward and ask for change to take place at our institutions of higher learning. We can do better. We should do better. We must do better so I urge your red light.

Next to debate SB 1179 was Rep. Steve Berch (D-Boise). Berch, in responding to Crane, told the House,

I don’t believe that we should be holding the budget for higher education hostage, to what essentially was just presented to us as hearsay. We have no idea if what we just heard is actually true. If it is, there are processes to work through the administration to deal with that instead of holding the entire state higher education budget hostage. This is not the way we should be making important decisions like this.

Rep. Bruce Skaug (R-Nampa) said that his daughter has been harassed at school for her beliefs to the point where she quit school and never finished college. Getting emotional while telling his story, Skaug asked that major cuts to the higher education budget take place.

House Minority Leader Ilana Rubel (D-Rubel) debated in favor of the proposed budget and said that the thousands of students she talked to are happy with their education and that Idaho businesses have benefited from the education those students received.

After a number of other legislators stood up and discussed issues both in favor of the budget and against the budget, Rep. Vito Barbieri (R-Dalton Gardens) asked that debate be ended and an immediate vote take place.

The screen showing the vote tally showed 58 in favor and 12 against with two Democrats also voting now. However, Idaho Dispatch noted that the legislative website shows the vote as 57-13 with one of the Democrat votes being changed to a “Yes” vote.

Idaho Dispatch also reached out to Sen. Carl Crabtree (R-Grangeville) to get his response to the higher education appropriation bill dying in the House but we have not yet heard back from him.

What do you think about the debate over the higher education budget? Let us know in the comments below.

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Tags: Brent Crane, Bruce Skaug, Paul Amador, SB 1179, Steve Berch

12 thoughts on “Higher Education Budget Dies as Legislators Debate What is Being Taught at Idaho Colleges/Universities

  1. Education is vital to the growth and economy of Idaho.

    Why is the Freedom Foundation running Idaho politics? Wake up Idahoans. There is a fox in the henhouse and it does not bode well for the people of Idaho.

    1. You have no idea how fast Marxist ideology is spreading in the USA and even here in Idaho. Maybe you want that. Most of us DON’T. You might say that the FF is running Idaho Politics….I can show you where Beijing is running it.

    2. Wow. From someone in CA watching to see what happens to Idaho politically, this is a really frightening comment. You have absolutely NO CLUE how dangerous what they’re doing to our schools is. You sound a lot like the typical CA liberal making ridiculous generalized comments without the slightest degree of actual critical reasoning. That’s how CA’s education system was corrupted, and it’ll happen to Idaho as well if people like you don’t wake up (or don’t get ignored by enough people with common sense). There is absolutely no redeeming quality to Critical Race Theory, and the thought that someone who lives in Idaho doesn’t grasp that is both terrifying and tragic. I sincerely hope you’re also an outsider just mouthing off.

  2. “Education is vital to the growth and economy of Idaho”. That depends on how you define education. It used to be based on the give and take of ideas and the free expression of how each person thinks. Now it’s just the taking of any idea not in line with marxist ideology and making those ideas/free expression into a dumpster fire.

    The “fox” in the henhouse is actually the minority commie student-led instigators together with the spineless college/university faculty that are tearing down the true educational process.

    Idahoans are waking up and they are rejecting your “form” of education.

    1. Spot on. NOTHING about Critical Race Theory or the Woke Agenda is remotely “educational”. It’s exactly they opposite. They don’t teach kids HOW to think, they tell them WHAT to think, and in doing so literally stifle critical reasoning in order to drive a hate-filled and dishonest agenda. The fact that anyone would defend that sort of curriculum while citing the “benefits of education” is a clear sign that the individual is either monumentally stupid, or a typical liberal trying to sell poison while packaging it up as “education”.

  3. It was obvious that the BSU administration and student government wanted no part of Big City Coffee being on campus because Big City Coffee supported our police. I’d venture to say they probably wanted to defund the police also. The legislature is just sending the message back that we the people of Idaho are considering defunding BSU. Actions speak louder than words.

  4. The most important skills for higher education to teach are critical reasoning and considering follow-on effects. Paying a “living wage” sounds good on its surface: paying a small portion of our workforce more money- good! But when considering the follow-on effects (inflation, job losses, lower profits) the follow-on effects are universally not good. Our colleges, instead of debating all sides of an issue openly, honestly and TOLERANTLY, have become insulated echo chambers where competing ideas are unwlecome.

  5. What was the change that happened at BSU yo cause a reframing of the legislators’ minds? Did BSU suddenly close all the woke classes? Or was it something to do with money and unions speaking to legislators?

    Woke ideas can be taught and critiqued. That would be fine. But the majority of students come out hating groups of people, not seeing individuals, and often hating themselves and their own parents. Those type of people have nothing to add to society.

    More info needed to understand why they stopped the bill. I was very pleased to see the bill itself and how it would assist our community.

  6. Turnabout is fair play. Student activists and faculty/staff collaborators unartfully ran Big City Coffee off campus for the left’s opposition to Big City’s support of western civilization. Cancel culture should swing both ways. Trim the University’s budget 10 % for this year. If university administrators don’t cancel woke “social injustice” courses, expel students for assaultive behavior (and illegal behavior), and fire faculty accomplices, then clip them another 10% next year. And so on until they clean up their act. Or sell the campus to a private entity, and appropriate the taxpayers’ higher education support for vouchers to Idaho students (under parental control). If not, hire an auditor to monitor BSU activities for the next five years with annual reports to the Legislature to guide oversight and budget decisions.

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