Otter ‘reluctantly agreed’ to broadband budget shift

Gov. Butch Otter “reluctantly agreed” to a funding shift for the troubled Idaho Education Network broadband project, Otter told Betsy Russell of the Spokane Spokesman-Review.

Gov. Otter
Gov. Butch Otter

The 2015 Legislature slashed the Department of Administration’s 2015-16 budget, as it shifted oversight of high school broadband to the State Department of Education. Under the Education Department’s watch, local school districts secured short-term broadband contracts for the remainder of the 2014-15 school year, at a savings of more than $1 million.

The reduced Administration Department budget — cut from $28.5 million to $19.6 million — passed both houses easily. On April 23, 12 days after the end of the 2015 session, Otter allowed the budget to become law without his signature.

“It was just an effort to say, y’know, I didn’t really agree with you moving that. I understand, but I didn’t really agree,” Otter told Russell.

Former Administration Department director Teresa Luna — a central figure in the Idaho Education Network fiasco — stepped down in April. However, she remains on the department’s staff, at her old salary of $95,202.