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North Idaho lawmaker’s vote against NIC budget was a mistake – he’d meant to vote ‘yes’

UPDATED: Tue., March 20, 2018, 9:40 p.m.

Rep. Don Cheatham, R-Post Falls, at top center, considers bills in the Idaho House on Tuesday, March 20, 2018, along with other House members. (Betsy Z. Russell / SR)
Rep. Don Cheatham, R-Post Falls, at top center, considers bills in the Idaho House on Tuesday, March 20, 2018, along with other House members. (Betsy Z. Russell / SR)

BOISE – Post Falls Rep. Don Cheatham didn’t realize until afterward that he’d accidentally voted against the North Idaho College budget in the House on Tuesday – he’d meant to vote yes.

“No, oh no,” Cheatham said when asked about his vote – one of just two in the House against the bill.

Cheatham said he supports NIC all the way. He’d been on the phone making an inquiry about the next bill at the time and pushed the wrong button. His notes reflected that he planned to vote “yes.”

Cheatham, a second-term Republican who’s running for the Senate, tried to get permission to change his vote, but it was too late. The House had adjourned for lunch, and the bill had been sent back to the Senate for its final processing before it is sent to Gov. Butch Otter for his signature.

The budget bill includes the expansion of NIC’s popular computer science degree program; it passed the Senate earlier.

The computer science program is a collaboration between NIC and the University of Idaho that allows students to study for their first two years at NIC, then transfer to the U of I and earn four-year degrees – all without leaving Coeur d’Alene. It’s in its second year and has a capacity of roughly 60 students.

NIC officials say there’s enough demand to double the number of students, and that’s what the budget bill would allow. The bill also includes the funding for all of Idaho’s other community colleges, including the newly established College of Eastern Idaho in Idaho Falls.

Cheatham is unopposed in the May GOP primary for the District 3 Senate seat. In November, he faces Democratic challenger Patrick Lippert of Post Falls.


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