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Eye On Boise

Otter calls for building initiative for Idaho universities

Idaho Gov. Butch Otter gives his State of the State address to lawmakers on Monday (Betsy Z. Russell)
Idaho Gov. Butch Otter gives his State of the State address to lawmakers on Monday (Betsy Z. Russell)

On higher education, Gov. Butch Otter is proposing just a 2.16 percent increase in state general funds, while he’s calling for a 6.37 percent boost for community colleges. But separately from the higher ed budget, he’s also calling for a $35 million building initiative, through a transfer from to the Permanent Building Fund to aid a series of major construction projects on campuses across the state.

Other higher ed proposals from Otter:

He’s calling for a new “Adult Completers Scholarship” at $3 million, aimed at supporting adult students returning to a public college or university after an absence of at least three years to complete their undergraduate degree. A similar proposal last year was a non-starter with lawmakers.

Graduate Medical Education: Otter is proposing $2.425 million for additional medical residencies to address Idaho’s physician shortage.

Otter also is calling for funding a series of initiatives at Idaho colleges and universities, including a $2.09 million economic and workforce development initiative at BSU; an ISU Idaho Falls Polytechnic Initiative, at $1.8 million, to meet the education needs of the Idaho National Laboratory; and phase two of a computer science expansion for the University of Idaho in Coeur d’Alene, at $715,100.

He also gave a full endorsement to the drive to create a new College of Eastern Idaho to replace Eastern Idaho Technical College, saying it will “spur economic growth and complete a comprehensive statewide system of affordable community college options.” Bonneville County voters will consider the proposal in May. It has “my full and enthusiastic support,” Otter said.

He also urged support for the College of Western Idaho's expansion plans, including a Boise campus. "The College of Western Idaho is bursting at the seams," he said.

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Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Z. Russell joined The Spokesman-Review in 1991. She currently is a reporter in the Boise Bureau covering Idaho state government and politics, and other news from Idaho's state capital.

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