Voters on Tuesday rejected laws passed by the Legislature in 2011 reforming how public education works in Idaho. All three propositions on the ballot fell by wide margins, according to unofficial results from the secretary of state’s office.
More than 56 percent of Idaho voters rejected Proposition 1, which put limits on master teacher contracts and required agreements to be negotiated in public, among other things. The measure was the closest vote of the three hotly contested ballot issues.
Proposition 2, which put in place a merit pay system for the state’s educators, garnered opposition from more than 57 percent of voters.
Proposition 3 suffered the most severe defeat, with a supermajority of Idaho voters rejecting the law that puts in place a requirement that all high school students be outfitted with mobile computing devices. More than 66 percent of Idaho voters rejected the statute.
The defeat means that the laws in place prior to the 2011 legislative session go back on the books once the election results have been certified later this month. Several lawmakers have said that if the propositions were defeated, they would work in 2013 to push individual education reform bills through the Legislature.
The National Education Association flooded the state with millions of dollars to defeat the propositions and the election outcome may not reflect true voter sentiment with regard to labor laws, pro-education reform legislators have said. But opponents, and even some supporters of education reform, may be reluctant to re-enter the fray, with voters having soundly defeated the three measures.
The state attorney general’s office opined last week that teachers eligible for a pay-for-performance bonus will receive the money regardless of the outcome of the Proposition 2 vote. However, one variable that could cause a problem is the date districts elect to pay the bonus.
The Lewiston Tribune reported that bonuses paid in advance of a Nov. 21 certification date would be paid out without a problem; by law, the bonuses were supposed to be delivered by Nov. 15. But the education department worried that some districts may have a problem with the Nov. 15 date due to their payroll schedule.
A defeat of measures passed by the Legislature is historic, but not unprecedented. In 1935, the Legislature passed a 2 percent sales tax. More than 52 percent of Idaho voters rejected the measure in the 1936 general election.
It wasn’t until 1965 that the Legislature was willing to take up a sales tax again. Voters weighed in 1966, and the sales tax, at 3 percent this time, was upheld with 61 percent of the vote.