Idaho Gov. Butch Otter’s higher education task force is now in full swing. Having held two meetings thus far, there are about three full task force meetings left before introducing recommendations to Gov. Otter about higher education in Idaho.
The first official task force meeting took place in February, which was an introductory meeting. According to Josh Scholer—a member of the higher education task force and Boise State’s ASBSU Government Relations Officer—about 60 different items for the task force to concentrate on were determined during this first meeting. The second meeting took place Friday, March 17, in which the task force was split up into sub-committees.
There were three primary sub committees formed that are focusing on higher education outcomes that support the workforce, affordability and the funding formula. Scholer decided to be a part of the funding formula committee, since this is an issue he wanted to focus on when he joined the task force.
“There has to be a working and sustainable way of how we fund our schools in the most equitable way possible, because right now, it’s not equitable at all—at both the community college and university level,” Scholer said.
There were many different presentations given during the first meeting, according to Scholer.
“I still have a lot of questions left after the first presentation we had. I’m not sure the first presentation was all that insightful,” Scholer said. “I hope we have more presentations from people who have implemented this in their state.”
In addition to full-task force meetings, the sub-committees plan to meet separately throughout the next five months to address their specific topics, according to Scholer. Then, in September, the recommendations will be given to Gov. Otter.
“We will make good recommendations,” Scholer said. “Having said that, we can come up with the best recommendations in the world for Idaho, but if those come with a decent chunk of change, that requires investment. That’s what this is, it’s going to be a lot of investment for the state of Idaho to make.”
Once the recommendations are made, it will be up to the legislature to decide how many will be pursued.
“The question is whether or not the legislature is ready to put the money where their mouth has been,” Scholer said.
With Gov. Otter entering his last year as governor, he will most likely try and push these recommendations through, according to Scholer. It will then be up to the 2018 candidates to decide if they are also on board with these recommendations.