BOISE — The Senate passed a resolution Monday that would allow the state to float $90 million in bonds to finance the construction of two new buildings associated with Idaho National Laboratory.
Sen. Dean Mortimer, R-Idaho Falls, carried the bill on the floor.
“The lease arrangements would make sure that INL covers the costs of debt payment, operations and maintenance,” Mortimer said. “The INL will also be responsible for the costs of any building configuration or needs above commercial standards.”
In addition, INL has indicated it will invest another $10 million in improvements to the buildings. Most importantly, Mortimer said, the buildings will offer new opportunities for Idaho students.
“This effort holds enormous potential for Idaho’s institutions of higher learning,” he said.
For example, Idaho universities already utilize about 10 percent of INL’s supercomputer for education and research, he said. The new supercomputer that’s part of the $90 million deal would greatly expand that capacity.
“Why should the state of Idaho … be involved?” Mortimer said. “Many of us are aware of the collaboration between the state and INL in the Center for Advanced Energy Studies. This new collaboration builds on that successful past and allows our universities and the INL to engage one another in a much more robust, significant and lasting way.”
Senate Majority Leader Bart Davis, R-Idaho Falls, also urged support for the resolution.
“This is a big deal to the Idaho National Laboratory, but it’s a bigger deal to our colleges and universities. This is an example of a public-private partnership that is a remarkable partnership for higher education. Our universities couldn’t afford to do what this will allow us to do.”
There was no debate in opposition. The resolution passed unanimously. It now heads to the House.
Reporter Bryan Clark can be reached at 542-6751.