Several times during his State of the State message today, Otter has returned to the phrase “Idaho learns.” He said Idaho has learned from its contract problems with the Idaho Education Network, for which the state’s $60 million contract was declared illegal. “The kind and quality of courses and the level of instruction provided by the IEN truly is staggering,” Otter said. “I believe its value is beyond question. The IEN is an asset that must be maintained. The challenges in continuing this world-class educational tool can and should be overcome.”
He told lawmakers, “I am committed to fulfilling the vision and promise of the IEN, which will start with rebidding the contracts involved, but also includes a strong recommendation for full funding of IEN operations in fiscal 2016 to ensure the service is continued for Idaho students.”
His budget calls for $7.3 million in funding for the IEN next year, to make up for lost federal e-rate funds, plus a supplemental appropriation for the current year of $1.6 million for the same purpose. The federal funds were cut off due to the dispute over the state's contract award.