Rep. Dorothy Moon: House Bill 190 Critique

Dear Patriots,

A critique of House Bill 190 by Rep. Dorothy Moon. Please take a moment to read and then contact your legislators with your concerns. More taxpayer money for post-high school education, this time for those who dropped out of college previously. Maybe college should be for the best and brightest.

It is difficult to continue funding the welfare state especially when serious needs exist with Idaho’s roads infrastructure. Help put your money where it is needed.

Post-Secondary Education scholarships are not the fix for deficiencies in K-12 programs in Idaho schools. Sixty percent of college freshmen require remediation for English and math skills. These deficiencies drag many students through a long-term refresher course that eventually adds greatly to the cost of higher education and diminishes future expectations of acquiring a valuable degree. In many cases, the cost and extended time required to become “college ready” overwhelm the new student leaving them behind their peers and in debt. They often drop out.

House Bill 190 was conceived to help those who, for whatever reason, dropped out of college and would now, at least three years later, like to return. The program offers much compassion but lacks greatly in hopes for any future return. The costly program, $3,000 per academic year for up to four years, was not tied to any standard of accomplishment nor geared for needed job placement in Idaho’s workforce.

This program would not address what really ails education and the advancement of college ready students. K-12 is where our investment in education is most needed, and it shows by mere fact that students heading for college are ill-prepared.

House Bill 190

The Adult Completer Scholarship, (Drop out Scholarship) is another big money hand out program Governor Otter would like to see passed this year at taxpayer expense. $3 million dollars per year would be appropriated annually for this program should it pass the House. Last session the legislature passed the Advanced Opportunities Scholarship which now costs taxpayers one million dollars for 2017 and two million dollars for distribution in 2018. HB-190 would add another to the growing list.

Adults who have completed 24 credit hours in an eligible institution and have since dropped out of school for at least three years are eligible for this new entitlement. Ex-students could now qualify for the Adult Completer Scholarship and receive up to $3,000 a year for a total of 4 years should this bill become law. The money would be given to institutions of higher education in the State in the name of the qualifying student to apply toward tuition, fees, and books.

House Bill 190 as first written was not acceptable to the House Education Committee and was sent to General Orders, a process where amendments to the bill could be added. Several amendments were proposed to make this expenditure more accountable should it pass the House and Senate, on to the Governor’s office.

Amendments that passed the Education Committee included:

  1. Grade point average of at least 2.0 for previously earned college credits.
  2. Veterans would have priority.
  3. Eligible students who discontinue attendance shall become ineligible to participate in the adult postsecondary completion scholarship in future. Participating students may request a leave of absence for military service or for medical emergencies.
  4. The effectiveness of the adult postsecondary completion scholarship program would be evaluated by the state board of education on an annual basis. This evaluation would include annual data collection as well as longer-term evaluations including, but not limited to, the type of certificate degree program being pursued by each scholarship recipient in relation to jobs determined to be of high-demand in Idaho.
  5. The eligible institution shall remit the amount of payment received under this section for the courses not completed by the student, regardless of whether the eligible institution’s deadline to drop a course had passed, to the Opportunity Scholarship program account created under section 33-4303, Idaho Code. This amendment added at least some accountability to the program.

An amendment that did not pass required that:

A degree would be pursued that supports occupations in science, technology, engineering or mathematics and is listed in the “Top 50 Occupation Vacancy Rates in Demand” as published in the most recent edition of the “Idaho Occupations in Demand” pamphlet issued by the Idaho Department of Labor, communications and research division.

Without this amendment, any Bachelor’s degree program would be acceptable regardless if jobs exist in the field of study or not. The above amendment would at least direct students to prepare for those jobs known to be available upon graduation.

Without the accountability of this amendment, I believe the bill is just another expensive road to nowhere when at this time, we have many roads, highways, and bridges in serious need of repair.

Please call or email your Representative or Senator with your concerns about this spending bill. You will find the e-mail addresses for all of Idaho’s legislators by clicking the link below.

Gem State Patriot News