(AP) - Idaho Gov. "Butch" O


tter has signed a 2013 funding plan for public schools that includes funds for the state's new education reforms, including merit pay bonuses and laptops. The budget includes $1.27 billion in state general funding, a $56 million bump over the current fiscal year. That's a 4.6 percent boost in state support, but the overall increase is much smaller at 0.4 percent when including federal funding. Otter also gave the go-ahead for a military-based program in north-central Idaho targeted at high school dropouts. The plan would allow state alternative school funding to go toward the Youth Challenge Program in Pierce. The program is expected to produce 50 new jobs in the economically depressed region and serve more than 200 at-risk kids.

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