Lawmakers await AG's guidance on teacher merit pay

BOISE, Idaho (KBOI) -- Leading lawmakers gathered at the Idaho Statehouse Friday morning, in search of an answer to the question: can the $38 million dollars appropriated for merit pay still be given to teachers as specifically outlined in the education laws voters repealed on Tuesday?

They're hoping a pending legal opinion from The Idaho Attorney General's Office will help guide them.

"That was an implied contract on our part," said Sen. Brent Hill, president pro tem. "But that contract has been voided. We're hoping the teachers can still get that money, but have to make sure legally they can. That's what we're waiting for the attorney general to advise us on."

Idaho's school districts get the money in less than a week but probably would not distribute the money to qualifying teachers until after Nov. 21 -- the day votes are officially canvassed and the education laws go off the books.

But can they do it now that the law has been scrapped?

"There are a lot of questions about the methodology in Prop Two, as to whether that's the right way to distribute that money," said Rep. John Rusche, House minority leader. "But I think the fact is almost everyone agrees that's money that was earned."

"So there appear to be a lot of open legal questions," said Majority Leader Sen. Bart Davis. "Idaho needs to answer those questions. Those teachers who have earned it, in my opinion, have a right to those funds. That's one of the things we need to make happen."