Otter signs broadband bailout bill

The $3.6 million high school broadband bailout plan is now law.

Gov. Butch Otter signed the plan into law Wednesday.

House Bill 168 will set aside $3.6 million to reimburse school districts for short-term broadband contracts, to replace the floundering Idaho Education Network system. The network’s $60 million contract has been declared void, forcing districts to scramble to make their own arrangements.

“A lot of work remains to be done to set this right, including a funding solution beyond the current school year,” Otter said in a news release. “But I’m confident that we are working with a singular focus on the good of Idaho students – and that means a strong and reliable (network).”

HB 168 overwhelmingly passed both houses, with only one dissenting vote.

Here is the Otter news release:

Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter signed a bill into law today that the Legislature quickly approved to pay for continuing operations of the Idaho Education Network through the end of the 2014-15 school year. 

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The bill also provides legislative guidance on the use of the $3.64 million appropriated to the Idaho Department of Education, which will be responsible for ensuring payments to vendors providing broadband Internet connectivity to Idaho public schools.

“With this bill, the Legislature is sending a strong message to the people of Idaho that we will not let the education of Idaho’s children or this dynamic tool for preparing them for the future be sidetracked – as well as the opportunities for enabling even the smallest of our rural communities to fully participate in Idaho’s economic growth,” Gov. Otter said.

“A lot of work remains to be done to set this right, including a funding solution beyond the current school year. But I’m confident that we are working with a singular focus on the good of Idaho students – and that means a strong and reliable IEN.”

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