Former Senate Education Committee Chairman John Goedde has a new job around the Statehouse — helping to navigate a solution to Idaho’s school broadband fiasco.
Gov. Butch Otter has hired Goedde on a contract basis, the Idaho Statesman and the Coeur d’Alene Press reported Tuesday. His job will be to help find a way to keep the state’s troubled high school broadband system online, while lawmakers look for a long-term funding solution.
The future of the Idaho Education Network broadband system was thrown into turmoil in November, when District Judge Patrick Owen voided the disputed $60 million project contract. Attorneys for the state and the network contractors have gone to court to protest the ruling.
With the 2009 network contract tossed out, funding for the broadband system also remains in flux. The state has not received federally administered “E-rate” payments since 2013, as a result of the contract dispute. These payments, collected from monthly phone surcharges, typically cover three-fourths of the network’s budget. But without that money, the 2014 Legislature coughed up $11.4 million to keep the network online, and could be asked to come up with as much as $11.6 million in 2015.
Goedde, meanwhile, will be paid $4,000 a month during the legislative session; Goedde told the Press he began his work from home on Dec. 17. Goedde tells the Press he will be in Boise for the session, but will not receive per diem.
Goedde lost his $16,438-a-year Senate seat in May, when he was ousted by Coeur d’Alene Republican Mary Souza in the GOP primary.