Legislative roundup, 3.17.21: Senators pass higher education budget – Idaho EdNews

Sen. Carl Crabtree, R-Grangeville, debates for the higher education budget Wednesday.

After spirited debate about campus social justice programs — and whether a $409,000 funding shift sent enough of a message — senators approved a higher education budget Wednesday.

All told, the budget would carve up $631.4 million for the four four-year institutions, including $315.2 million of state tax dollars. But much of the debate centered on a $409,000 shift from Boise State University to Lewis-Clark State College, to take away dollars Boise State had spent on social justice programs.

The budget bill’s floor sponsor, Sen. Carl Crabtree, R-Grangeville, described the budget as a common-sense first step to rein in the four-year institutions.

“Frankly I don’t think our voice has been heard adequately by our colleges and universities,” he said.

Crabtree said the $409,000 shift was not arbitrary, but instead reflected what Boise State said it had spent on social justice programs. And he noted that the budget will require the four schools to report all social justice spending to the Legislature in January. “They’re going to get the message.”

Some Senate conservatives were unconvinced.

Sen. Christy Zito, R-Hammett, urged senators to strip down the higher education budget and support a mission of producing “job-ready people.” Sen. Steve Vick, R-Dalton