By Ruth Brown, Idaho Reports
The Idaho House of Representatives passed the budget Thursday for Idaho’s four public universities and colleges.
Rep. James Petzke, R-Meridian, sponsored SB 1176, for a total of $678 million and it passed in a 41-28 vote.
Historically these budgets have been controversial on the House floor with concerns about programs focused on issues such as diversity or gender equity.
The budget bill does include a statement about the use of appropriated funds, reading “The college and universities shall verify no state appropriated funds are used to support diversity, equity, inclusion, or social justice ideology as part of any student activities, clubs, events, or organizations on campus.”
Rep. Barbara Ehardt, R-Idaho Falls, opposed the bill.
“These diversity, equity and inclusion programs are nothing but divisive,” Ehardt said.
Rep. Britt Raybould, R-Rexburg, said when she thinks of diversity, equity and inclusion, she thinks of veterans and first-generation college students. A member of the joint budget committee, she pointed to the intent language in the bill.
“What precisely is it that this body wants that goes beyond this?” Raybould asked. “To continue to beat up on them is not right.”
Multiple legislators pointed to the number of university employees that focus on DEI or programs that discuss the subjects of gender equity and diversity.
Rep. Matt Bundy, R-Mountain Home, argued that universities are places that create jobs, but “they also have a unique function as a laboratory of thought.”
Ultimately, it passed. The bill now heads to the Senate.