[Vision2020] Legislative Newsletter VIII February 27-March 2, 2012 - attempt 2

Rep. Tom Trail ttrail at moscow.com
Sat Mar 3 21:00:24 PST 2012

Sorry about that last post - it had an picture of the University of Idaho
- Flagship University but from my end of things it didn't look like it
made it through to vision2020 so I'm posting it again as simple text
(Steve Trail on behalf of Tom Trail)

     The phrase flagship institution or flagship university is often used
with reference to state university systems in the U.S., which often
comprise numerous separate and distinct degree granting institutions.
 In this context, flagship means the original institutions from which
the system grew, often dating from the wave of state university
foundings that occurred in the three decades from 1850 to 1890. 
According to Robert M. Berdahl, former Berkeley chancellor, the
phrase "flagship" came into existence in the 1950's when the Morrill
Act schools were joined by newer institutions built in a wave of
post-war expansion of state university system.  He contends that
because of their age, the flagship institutions are often the best
financed and are perceived as elite "systems" of higher education. 
The term flagship is often meant to indicate that the university with
this designation is the leading academic and research oriented higher
educational institution in the state.  The University of Idaho
certainly meets this criterion.

     Many university administrators,  State Board of Education members,
and others don't feel that the term "flagship" institution is
politically correct.  However, in a recent edition of the Journal of
Black Education a listing showing flagship institutions indicates
there is a flagship designation for one institution each of the 50
states.  Apparently, the Idaho State Board of Education feels that
they are on the cutting edge by eliminating this title then Idaho
will be the only state without the flagship title and status, and
that Idaho will lead the U.S. in "political correctness."  I will be
meeting this coming week with key stakeholders concerning this issue.

     Corporate Income Tax Cut:  The House voted to pass a $36 million tax
cut which would go only to those paying Idaho's corporate income tax,
and to top earners who now pay the state's highest rate for
individual income tax.  For a single person who doesn't itemize and
takes the standard deduction, that equates to a minimum gross income
of $36,360 to start getting any tax break.  F or a married couple
filing jointly with no dependents, it's $72,000.  For a couple with
two children, it's $79,920.  Just over 17 percent of Idaho income tax
filers would benefit from the cut.  Taxes for lower earners wouldn't
change. Eight Republicans, including myself , all with more than 12
years in the House voted against the bill.  We remembered that in
2001 with the passage of a much greater tax cut that this devastated
both public and Higher Education funding.  The negative impact is
still felt today among all of Idaho's educational institutions.  Rep.
Dennis Lake, Chairman of the House Rev and Tax Committee spoke out
against the bill.  He warned that even with a slightly greater
revenue stream today that we will still be facing a $70 million
structural deficit by June 30th, and that the tax bill if passed will
just make the matter worse.  The House Rev and Tax Committee on a 9-9
vote dismissed the possibility of taxing on line/internet sales. 
Taxing these sales could bring in an estimated $35 million/year. 
There is talk of a committee to study the proposal in greater depth
this coming summer.

     JCAC votes to increase University support by 8.6%    One piece of
good news is that JFAC voted to boost state support for universities
by 8.6 percent.  Faculty and staff would also get pay increases if
the plan passes the full Legislature.  This increase would bring
state support for higher education up to levels set in 2006.  
Hopefully, the increases will lessen the need to drastically increase
tuition rates for students.   University of Idaho President, Duane
Nellis, told JFAC that his highest priority was increasing
compensation for faculty and staff.  He stressed the urgency since
there hasn't been a pay increase in almost four years.   Spending
plans also include a proposed across the board salary increase of 2
percent for state employees.

     The Great Idaho Teacher Migration was a subject of interest this
week.   There has been talk that one of the impacts of SPI Tom Luna's
three pillars of education laws passed this last year is the
increasing number of teachers leaving their jobs or go out of the
state to seek work elsewhere.   In 2009 only 314 teachers left their
jobs.  In 2010 about 697 teachers left their jobs and in 2011 nearly
1,300 teachers left their jobs.   While there are many factors
involved, the trend does lead one to speculate that the replacement
of teachers with "mobile" devices as articulated by the SPI and
several legislators may have had some influence in accelerating this
disturbing trend.

     Third Party Candidate gains national recognition in State of Virginia
Senate race and now has eyes on the Presidency.  The new U.S. Senate
candidate in Virginia wears a tie and has a thick coat of fur.   He
has a campaign website and has even launched a ad campaign.   Hank
the Cat has gained national recognition and is even thinking about a
run for the Presidency.   Come to think of it,   Hank the President
has a nice ring to it.

     We are winding down to the Sine Die date which will be toward the end
of March.   Please send me your comments and ideas.

My e mail is ttrail at house.idaho.gov or thomasftrail at gmail.com

Rep. Tom Trail

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