Idaho Education, Legislative Leaders Question Gov. Otter's Higher Ed Plan

Jan 29, 2018

University of Idaho President Chuck Staben has joined some lawmakers and education officials who are skeptical that a proposed “higher education CEO” can save the state tens of millions of dollars a year.

Gov. Butch Otter’s (R) proposal would set aside $500,000 to study consolidating back office tasks like human resources, IT and payroll processing.


He’d also hire a CEO for around $200,000 a year before the study wraps up.

Staben says he thinks consolidation could indeed save taxpayer money, but not as much as Otter proposes.


“I frankly don’t think it’s probably $43 million personally, but I think we can probably save enough that it’s worth doing,” he says.


During his budget hearing last week, Boise State University President Bob Kustra made the same point, saying his staff pegs annual savings around $6 million.


Staben also doesn't believe the position, if lawmakers choose to fund it, would eventually wrest control from university presidents across the state.


"The governor has been pretty clear that he does not see this as a chancellor-type position ... HR and purchasing are important, but they're not really at the core of the autonomy of the university."


Lawmakers on the budget writing JFAC committee were split on the plan, saying they’d want to hire someone after a study is complete, according to the Spokesman Review.


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