Mat Erpelding state mug 2019 cropped

Rep. Mat Erpelding

Prompted by Rep. Mat Erpelding’s comments this morning about minimum teacher salaries in Idaho, I did a little research, with the help of legislative librarian Eric Glover, to see where they’ve gone over the years; while school districts generally set teacher pay levels, the minimum teacher salary is set by law. Sure enough, as Erpelding alluded to, Idaho’s minimum teacher salary in fiscal year 2008 was $31,750, according to state statutes, but amid recession-driven budget cuts, it had dropped to just $29,655 in both 2010 and 2011. It was set at $30,000 by the Legislature for 2012, but after voters rejected Proposition 3, repealing the teacher salary portion of the Luna Laws, it bumped up to $30,500.

It stayed there in 2013, and went up to $31,000 in fiscal year 2014; $31,750 in 2015; $32,700 in 2016; $33,400 in 2017; $34,600 in 2018; and $35,800 this year.

Under legislation championed by Gov. Brad Little and passed by the Legislature this year, it’ll rise to $38,500 next year and then $40,000 the following year, fiscal year 2021.

Here are Erpelding’s comments from this morning, made during a break in the first meeting of Little’s new education improvement task force, on which Erpelding serves:

In the recession of 2010-11, Erpelding said, “We cut starting teacher salaries down to below $30,000, and then it took us 10 years to get them back to a reasonable middle-class job. In two years of cutting budgets, we could set ourselves back 20 years. I hope we have a conversation about weathering recessions.”

My thanks to Glover; it took going through 71 pages of current and past Idaho code sections to pin these numbers down.

Betsy Z. Russell is the Boise bureau chief and state capitol reporter for the Idaho Press and Adams Publishing Group. Follow her on Twitter at @BetsyZRussell.

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