State Gets $14 million Bill For Broadband
AP-The Federal Communications Commission withheld $7 million for the Idaho Education Network, a high-speed system for Idaho high schools. Idaho legislative budget writers learned Thursday that telecom giant Century Link and Education Networks of America haven’t been paid by the federal government since last March. That’s when the Idaho Supreme Court resurrected a lawsuit in which Idaho-based telecom provider Syringa Networks accused the Department of Administration and its then-director, Mike Gwartney, of inappropriately awarding the contract to its rivals. Last March, justices concluded that Gwartney inappropriately helped CenturyLink win the IEN deal.With ongoing litigation — the most recent hearing in Idaho’s 4th District Court in Boise was Jan. 14 — the FCC won’t pay any more money until doubts about the contract’s legality have been resolved. With the FCC funding in limbo, the Legislature’s budget committee must figure out how to make up a total of about $14.4 million — $7 million for money outstanding since March, as well as a similar amount for fiscal year 2015 starting in July — in hopes that the lawsuit is resolved and the FCC eventually makes the payments.