AP: Agency wants more time to sort out broadband repayment issue

In March, a unanimous state Supreme Court said the state must seek repayment from Idaho Education Network contractors.

But a state agency says it needs more time to sort out this aspect of the school broadband project fiasco.

Meridian high school, broadbandAttorney General Lawrence Wasden had asked the state Department of Administration to submit its decision on the repayment issue by Wednesday. However, department director Bob Geddes is still reviewing the Supreme Court ruling and needs more time to make a decision, Kimberlee Kruesi of the Associated Press reported Wednesday.

The payment issue is but one unresolved issue stemming from the Idaho Education Network shutdown.

Two contractors, Education Networks of America and Qwest, received $29.7 million for the project. Now that the project contract has been declared void, state officials are legally required to seek repayment — a point underscored by Chief Justice Jim Jones in the March 1 Supreme Court ruling. Jones did not actually direct Geddes or Wasden to seek the repayment, however.

“If the appropriate state officer fails to perform this statutory obligation, the state’s chief legal officer can step forward to make the state whole for these unfortunate violations of state law,” Jones wrote.

But even as the repayment issue looms, the Legislature and Gov. Butch Otter earmarked $8 million that could be paid in a settlement with ENA and Qwest.