With the general election less than a week away, the Idaho Student Association has released the first Idaho Higher Education Legislator Report Card.
In the report, the group of students evaluated bills focused on higher education from the 2018 legislative session to determine how legislators voted to support higher education.
District 5 Sen. Dan Foreman, a Republican, received a D and tied with Assistant Majority Leader Steve Vick from District 2 with the least amount of support for higher education with a 67.1 percent.
Foreman and Vick were the only two senators who voted against a bill providing funding for the University of Idaho on the Senate floor in March.
The report card also listed an honor roll of 18 Idaho senators and six representatives. ASUI President Nicole Skinner said ISA created the honor roll to highlight legislators who consistently supported higher education bills in the 2018 legislative session. Republican Sen. Jeff Agenboard, a UI alumnus, who represents District 13 and lives in Nampa, received the highest score, an A grade with a percentage of 100.7.
ISA identified 21 bills that fit in the criteria for higher education. Bills were assigned between one and five points to determine its impact on legislators’ final scores. If a legislator was not present or voted against a bill, they received no points. If they voted for a bill, they received the points. If a legislator sponsored a bill, they received an additional 10 percent of its points. Using this formula, ISA determined a resulting percentage score that reflects each legislator’s support of higher education.
In its summary of the report card, ISA expressed hope it would become an annual project.
“In order for us to experience a culture shift, we also need our elected officials to advocate outside of the legislature’s chambers,” the summary reads. “We are beyond grateful for the legislators who already currently do so. Higher education must become a priority in the state of Idaho because our future depends on it. Our students deserve more, and we hope the creation of the annual Idaho Higher Education Legislative Report Card sparks a critical dialogue.”
Skinner worked on the project along with Clayton King, ASUI director of policy and chief of staff. They were joined by student body representatives from Boise State University, Idaho State University, Lewis-Clark State College, College of Southern Idaho and North Idaho College.
Bills included on the report card included a repeal to the Medical Amnesty Sunset Clause — worth five points — and a concealed weapon carry bill that would amend an existing law allowing retired law enforcement officers a concealed weapon on college campuses — worth one point.
“I hope this new statewide initiative will increase legislators’ accountability and advocacy for higher education in Idaho,” Skinner said. “We hope this project can make college more affordable and accessible for students by providing an incentive for the state support we so desperately need.”
Ellamae Burnell can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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