This week in the Idaho State Legislature, we have focused on the education budget. On Thursday, Superintendent Tom Luna gave his proposal to the Joint Finance and Appropriations Committee. In an effort to reduce the amount of cuts to education, Luna’s proposed budget asks that $3.3 million be taken from the State Department of Education’s driver training account, $2.2 million from the Safe and Drug-Free Schools Account, and $52.8 million from the Public School Earnings Reserve Fund of the state endowment, for a total of $58.3 million in one-time boosts to the school budget.

Because of the “Great Recession”, this is the first time that the State of Idaho has had to consider making cuts in education. As a Senator, I have been a strong supporter of public education, but proposed cuts in the education budget shows just how bad the state of the economy is today. There are sure to be several other difficult cuts to state agencies and programs this session.

Also, this week I introduced Senate Bill 1271, which would make it a misdemeanor for an employer to knowingly hire someone, based on false immigration documents. The bill also punishes those who present false documents for employment. The passage of this bill will not only help ensure that employees are working legally, but it will also help protect jobs for Idahoans. During these difficult economic times, it is important for Idahoans to have as many job opportunities as possible, and this bill will help facilitate that.

Also, this week we have reviewed rules for state agencies. Rules can be looked at as the “meat” that goes on the “bones” of laws that passed by the Legislature. We are one of the few states in the nation that go through the process of making sure that approved rules from the previous legislative session are working properly. If they are not meeting the established goals, we will then go through the process of revising those rules and making sure that they are done correctly. I will continue to keep you informed of important information and legislation in the upcoming weeks.