[Vision2020] Otter to Fight School Referendum

Tom Hansen thansen at moscow.com
Thu Jun 2 08:19:52 PDT 2011

Courtesy of today's (June 2, 2011) Spokesman-Review.


Otter to fight school referendum
Signatures on petitions exceed required number

BOISE – Idaho Gov. Butch Otter vowed Wednesday to personally campaign
against the voter referendum to overturn this year’s school reform
legislation, even as the tally of Idahoans signing petitions to place the
measures on the ballot hit the 65,000 mark – nearly 20,000 more than the
number required.

“That’s the people’s right – that’s what being part of a republic is all
about,” Otter said. He added, “We’re going to do our level best to make
sure that the correct information gets out.”

Three controversial school reform bills passed this year, pushed by Otter
and state Superintendent of Schools Tom Luna, remove most collective
bargaining rights from teachers, impose a merit-pay bonus system, and
shift funds from teacher salaries to technology and online learning.

Otter and Luna maintain that the plan, dubbed “Students Come First,” will
bring needed changes to Idaho’s education system at a time when funding
has been cut. “I think it’s important that after 40 years of the same
system, we really do need the reform,” Otter said.

Opponents needed 47,432 verified signatures to force a vote on each bill;
with all three well above that mark, it’s virtually assured that they’ll
be on the November 2012 ballot.

If they are, said Otter, “I hope they fail.”

Mike Lanza, a Boise parent and chairman of Idahoans for Responsible
Education Reform, said: “The governor has made it clear from the start
that he’s a supporter of Superintendent Luna’s plan. He did not seem to be
very concerned at all about the enormous public outcry against the plan
when it was in the Legislature, so we believe that the governor is simply
out of touch with public opinion on this one.”

The signature count won’t be official until next week, when supporters
present verified petitions to the Idaho Secretary of State’s office on
Monday, the deadline.

But with the state’s new voter registration database, the Secretary of
State’s office is able to track how many signatures have been verified by
Idaho’s county clerks, and as of 1 p.m. Wednesday, those numbers were
65,088 for SB 1108, the teacher contracts bill; 65,252 for SB 1110, the
merit pay bill; and 63,744 for SB 1184, the technology bill.

Idaho Secretary of State Ben Ysursa predicted, “These will be Proposition
1, 2 and 3” on the November 2012 ballot.

Lanza said the parent group is continuing to gather signatures because “we
know that many Idahoans still want to sign the three petitions.”

Idaho has had numerous initiatives make the ballot before, but only four
referendums. “We certainly have never had three on one day,” Ysursa said.
“That’s what’s obviously kind of unique about this.”

Ysursa said opponents of the measures can challenge signatures in court,
but all will have been verified already by county clerks. “These numbers
are more than 10,000 over what was needed – it’s pretty solid that they’re
going to be on (the ballot).”


Seeya round town, Moscow.

Tom Hansen
Moscow, Idaho

"The Pessimist complains about the wind, the Optimist expects it to change
and the Realist adjusts his sails."

- Author Unknown

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