Boise state budget sparks pushback from Idaho lawmakers

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The backlash against Boise State University’s social justice programs is again a matter of concern for the Idaho legislature.

During Tuesday’s Boise state budget hearing, Rep. Ron Nate (R-Rexburg) repeatedly asked Speaker Marlene Tromp how she cut spending on social justice programs.

Lawmakers cut Boise State’s budget by $1.5 million last year and banned universities and K-12 schools from forcing students to believe certain viewpoints.

“We made sure we didn’t have government dollar programs that were areas of concern,” Tromp said. “We have heard and read the legislation and we have met with our faculty and staff across the university.”

She dodged Nate’s question, pointing to the school’s new free speech institute.

“I would say we have evolved our programming,” she said. “So I would say that’s in line with Bill’s desire.”

But Nate kept pushing – three times.

“Again, instead of hearing answers from you about what Boise State has done to cut back, I’ve heard answers that talk about increases,” he said.

Far-right groups and lawmakers have advocated for further cuts to higher education over concerns about critical race theory, with little evidence it is being taught.

Last year, Rep. Priscilla Giddings (R-White Bird) has proposed cutting $18 million from the higher education budget — $17 million just from Boise State — something Nate also backed. Giddings argued that this figure represents the amount of money that universities spend on social justice programs. His move failed.

Lawmakers will continue to debate the higher education budget over the next two months.

Follow James Dawson on Twitter @RadioDawson for more local news.

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