Idaho House rejects higher education funding bill

BOISE, Idaho. — Money for Idaho colleges is uncertain right now. Senate Bill 1179 would give more that $630 million to four colleges and universities in the state, but Republicans in the State House are holding up the bill.

Last month the budget bill passed through the Senate, but recently Coeur d’Alene Representative Paul Amador asked the House to reject it and send it back to the drawing board. After an hour-long debate, the bill was rejected 13-57. Republicans want to withhold money because they say they don’t like what’s being taught in Idaho colleges.

“None of this appropriation should go for social justice or critical race theory programming and activism on campuses,” said Representative Ronald Nate (R) from District 34.

Idaho house republicans made the argument the culture on college campuses is reason enough to keep money away from them. Senate Bill 1179 would give be allocated to four institutions in the state:

  • Boise State University: $264,658,300
  • Idaho State University: $143,057,200
  • University of Idaho: $173,690,900
  • Lewis & Clark State College: $43,770,700

Republicans believe the changes over the years on college campuses have been in the wrong direction. They include the school’s effort to fight gender-based violence, to help under-represented minorities and to teach people to avoid bias in hiring. They say these institutions go against the Idaho way.

“There is the offices of workforce diversity, and these administrative branches provide faculty members with implicit bias training and require those who want to serve on search committees to undergo this implicit bias training,” said Rep. Karey Hanks (R) from District 35.

Other members in the house fired back, saying inclusivity programs are vital to college campuses.

“There are things that seem to be clung to us as we’ve grown older that are biases that we don’t even see,” said Rep. Sue Chew (D) from District 17. “Now, how can we get free of that? It’s through training so we can see through eyes that really do see.”

This isn’t even the first time this month the Idaho House rejected education budgets over cultural issues. On Tuesday, the state’s K-12 teacher salaries budget fell in a 34-34 tie. Members cited some of the same reasons as the higher education funding.

On Monday, University of Idaho President Scott Green issued a statement on the recent budget failure. In the statement he said, “These interests represent a libertarian-based ideology, the principles of which generally do not believe that any public funding should be used for public education. The misinformation and half-truths spread are directly impacting higher education funding by the Idaho Legislature.”

RELATED: U of Idaho President urges supporters of higher ed to make voices heard in funding fight

We reached out to several state representatives regarding the bills, including Representative Amador, but have not heard back at this time.