Teresa Luna hired as state emergency planner

(UPDATED, 3:17 p.m., with details about Luna’s job and salary.)

Teresa Luna, a key figure in the Idaho Education Network broadband contract mess, has a new job as a state emergency planner.

Luna began the job with the state Bureau of Homeland Security Monday.

Teresa Luna, 2.5.15
Teresa Luna, testifying before the Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee in February.

Luna stepped down as director of the state Department of Administration in March, after the Legislature moved funding and jurisdiction for the broadband project to the State Department of Education. Her resignation was effective at the end of the 2015 session, but Luna had stayed on with the department as a “program specialist,” at her old director’s salary of $95,202 per year.

However, the new job comes at a significant pay cut. She will receive $27.06 per hour, bureau spokeswoman Elizabeth Duncan said Tuesday afternoon. At 40 hours a week and 52 weeks per year, that comes to an annual salary of $56,285 per year.

Luna’s new duties include preparing and maintaining the state’s disaster plan, and developing emergency plans “to guide the actions of the State of Idaho and its political subdivisions during times of disaster emergency.” (Click here for a full job description.)

“Ours is a very specialized field and Teresa brings a wealth of subject matter expertise to the organization,” bureau director Brad Richy said in a news release. “Teresa’s skills align with the mission of IBHS and we look forward to her making significant contributions to the work we do preparing for, protecting against, mitigating the effects of, responding to, and recovering from all hazards.”

The release touts Luna’s work with Administration on issues such as cybersecurity mitigation. It makes no reference to the Idaho Education Network — and the controversy that defined her four years at the helm of Administration.

Luna became a lightning rod for the project, as funding and contract crises came to light at the Statehouse over the past 16 months. In 2014, she angered budget-writers by failing to inform them that a federal agency had withheld matching dollars for the broadband system, leaving the state to pick up the difference. She had also extended the network’s contract, also without lawmakers’ knowledge.

The $60 million contract — engineered by Mike Gwartney, an Otter confidante and Luna’s predecessor at Administration — was thrown out in Ada County district court in November. That ruling put the statewide system in mothballs, required lawmakers to approve another budget bailout, and forced districts to sign local contracts to keep broadband in high schools.