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Idaho Senate blocks ITD campus sale on 3rd try

The Idaho Capitol building at dawn.
James Dawson
Boise State Public Radio
The Idaho Capitol at dawn.

After weeks of behind-the-scenes talks, delays and, at times, testy debates, state senators narrowly signed off on a bill simultaneously funding the Idaho Transportation Department and blocking the sale of the agency’s Boise campus.

No senator stood to debate nearly 11 hours after gaveling into session Wednesday morning.

Two senators flipped their votes from noes to yesses after defeating the previous version of the bill last Friday: Senate Majority Leader Kelly Anthon (R-Burley) and Sen. Geoff Schroeder (R-Mountain Home).

“I didn’t have any vested interest with my constituency, I didn’t think anything was unconstitutional and it didn’t shock my conscience,” Anthon said of his decision to change his vote.

The Idaho Transportation Board accepted a nearly $52 million bid to sell the State Street Campus in 2022 after the main building experienced flooding damage. Asbestos remediation would also be necessary to make the building habitable again.

That construction, which the bill also funds, would cost taxpayers $32.5 million.

Supporters of remodeling the campus said the nearly $52 million sale price was too low for 44 acres of prime real estate in a rapidly growing city.

Opponents argued the deal was nearly finalized with the developer and revoking it at the final hour wasis unethical.

The bill’s passage marks the final significant bill required to pass before lawmakers could adjourn for the year.

Both the House and Senate passed a bill forgoing their per diem for the next week as they wait to see if Gov. Brad Little vetoes any legislation awaiting his approval.

Little has five days to act on bills that arrive at his desk.

Both the House and Senate return to Boise Wednesday, April 10.

Copyright 2024 Boise State Public Radio

I cover politics and a bit of everything else for Boise State Public Radio. Outside of public meetings, you can find me fly fishing, making cool things out of leather or watching the Seattle Mariners' latest rebuilding season.

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