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Decision on IEN funding could be delayed

Decision on IEN funding could be delayed

Idaho Freedom Foundation staff
March 11, 2010
Idaho Freedom Foundation staff
Author Image
March 11, 2010

One of the leaders of the Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee (JFAC) said lawmakers may wait to decide on the next step for the Idaho Education Network (IEN), a program designed to increase high-speed Internet access and broaden course offerings at Idaho public high schools.

“We want IEN to move forward, but we want all the issues surrounding IEN to be resolved,” said Sen. Dean Cameron, R-Rupert. Money for IEN is part of the budget request for the Department of Administration. JFAC is scheduled to set the department’s budget Friday, but Cameron said that could be pushed back to next week as lawmakers seek more answers about IEN, including its contracting with local Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and long-term cost effectiveness.

Cameron said state officials working on IEN continue to discuss the program. “They’re working very hard,” he said about officials representing IEN. “They’ve met with members of [JFAC] up until 5 p.m. last night. I think they’re meeting with additional members today. I’m not faulting them.” But he said it may take more discussion before lawmakers on JFAC reach a decision on how best to proceed. “As is usually the case, when you answer one set of questions, another set pops up. We’re just trying to make sure that we have all the information to make an appropriate decision.” Cameron said he would know by Thursday afternoon whether IEN and the Department of Administration would be on JFAC’s Friday agenda.

Lawmakers held an informational meeting Wednesday regarding IEN. Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna said during the meeting that delaying funding for IEN would be pressing the kill switch on the needed program.

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