The Idaho House has overwhelmingly rejected the state’s proposed higher education budget because of concerns about the promotion by the state’s colleges and universities of a “social justice” agenda and the teaching of critical race theory. The vote was 13-57.
The appropriations bill rejected by the House had cut $409,000 from Boise State University’s bottom line, shifting that funding to Lewis-Clark State College. The reason for the shift was that Boise State is seen as promoting “social justice ideology” and activities.
But members of the House are also troubled by similar forms of wokeism at Lewis-Clark and the University of Idaho. And they didn’t view the Senate as going far enough to stop the rot.
Rep. Ron Nate stated:
We have seen in Idaho. . .problems with social justice and critical race theory. And so as we reject this budget today and send it back to JFAC [Joint-Finance Appropriations Committee], we ought to give that kind of direction to JFAC that we expect a budget back with a significant cut that at least sends the message — and also gives the universities the opportunity to demonstrate that they’re willing to make the changes needed to make us feel comfortable about funding higher education that matches Idaho values again.
Rep. Nate suggested cuts cutting around $4 million from a budget of $315.2 million.
A few lawmakers suggested that the budgets of the state’s four public colleges and universities be broken out into separate bills. The JFAC has previously rejected this approach.
Now, it’s back to the drawing board. As I understand it, the legislature must pass the higher education budget before the session ends in order to keep state colleges and universities operating in good order. The goal has been to finish the session by mid-April.
Generally speaking, it’s not a good look when politicians hold education budgets hostage to demands about curriculum. However, legislators shouldn’t stand by while schools use public money to teach students that they are racists, that their country is evil, and other noxious tenets of woke identity politics. States shouldn’t subsidize efforts to create self-hating students and to erode belief in America.
Therefore, I’m pleased that the Idaho House refused to pass the higher education budget.