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School financial transparency bill passes House

School financial transparency bill passes House

Dustin Hurst
March 24, 2010
Dustin Hurst
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March 24, 2010

A bill that sponsors say will help to increase transparency in the state passed the Idaho House Wednesday by a vote of 54-12.

The measure now heads to the Senate for consideration.

The legislation, sponsored by Rep. Phil Hart, R-Athol, would, if enacted, require school districts to post a record of their financial transactions on the Internet.  Only schools, both public and charter, with more than 300 students would be required to post the information.  The data would be required to be posted in one of four formats - database, spreadsheet, searchable PDF, or non-searchable PDF - by Dec. 31, 2010.

The bill originally required that all data be presented in a searchable PDF, but that provision was removed during the amending process because Hart didn't want the process to become overly complex or time-consuming for school officials.  In his talks with other government entities that already post their financial information online, Hart said he found that the process takes only about one hour per month.

No lawmakers stood in opposition to the bill on the House floor, but several opposed the measure in the committee hearing.  Rep. Donna Boe, D-Pocatello, expressed concerns about the time involved in the process.

“This will impose a huge burden … at a time when the budgets are so stringent, so difficult for our districts to deal with,” said Boe at the committee hearing.

Boe was joined with Rep. Max Black, R-Boise, who said he feels the bill is unnecessary in a time of massive budget cuts for schools.

"“We’re giving them more things to do with less money to do it, and I think that’s wrong," Black told committee members.

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