Idaho will repay the Federal Communications Commission $3.5 million to cover federal funds that went to the botched statewide school broadband contract.
State leaders made the payment Tuesday as part of a settlement with the federal agency over claims that the state misused more than $14 million in federal money by putting it toward the illegally-awarded contract.
Lawmakers approved the program to bring broadband Internet access to all of Idaho's schools nearly a decade ago. At the time, they believed the $60 million program would be mostly covered by money from the Federal Communications Commission.
But the project was beset with problems from the start. The state was sued by a company contending that the broadband contract was illegally awarded to more expensive bidders, and the courts eventually agreed.
“We appreciate Governor Otter’s leadership in negotiations with the FCC, which resulted in the settlement agreement,” Idaho House Speaker Scott Bedke said. “This gives us the opportunity to focus on delivering an important educational service to Idaho students rather than pending reimbursement claims.”
“I believe the months of work that went into crafting this agreement resulted in a settlement that’s in the best interest of everyone involved,” Senate President Pro Tem Brent Hill added. “The Legislature and local districts throughout Idaho are more than ready to move on.”
(Associated Press contributed to this story)