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Charter Funding Bill Sidelined For Amendments

"It seems to me that we should let the summer play out and work on this instead of rushing this through."

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House Bill 206--already passed by the Idaho House--has appeared, been yanked and reappeared before the Senate Education Committee over a two-week stretch, but Boise Democratic Sen. Branden Durst says he doesn't understand why the bill's proponents are in such a hurry.

"It seems to me that we should let the summer play out and work on this instead of rushing this through," Durst told his committee colleagues March 18.

But HB 206 is likely to return before the body sooner than later.

"We've been working on this diligently and I believe we have a solution that works," said Idaho Falls Republican Sen. Dean Mortimer, who has been shepherding the measure. "But I think it needs a bit of work right now."

HB 206, as it's currently written, would earmark a percentage of public schools facility levy funds for public charter schools. Simply put, charters say they need more money for construction and repair of their facilities. If approved, in its first year, 2014, public charters could receive approximately $114 per student; in 2015, public charters could receive approximately $171 per student.

"I should note that some of the stakeholders and I have been meeting with the Attorney General's Office on this," said Coeur d'Alene Republican Sen. John Goedde, the committee's chairman.

Goedde attempted to assuage Durst's concerns.

"Maybe the makers of any amendments to this bill might share them with you early so that you could gain some comfort," Goedde said to Durst.

But both lawmakers knew full well that they would renew their debate over the controversial measure when it returns--sooner than later.

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