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