‘Do your job:’ Little rips critics of Phoenix megadeal

By: - September 15, 2023 4:04 pm
Idaho Gov. Brad Little gives his State of the State speech

Idaho Gov. Brad Little gives his State of the State speech in the House chambers of the State Capitol building on Jan. 9, 2023. (Otto Kitsinger for Idaho Capital Sun)

Originally posted on IdahoEdNews.org on September 15, 2023

Gov. Brad Little vehemently defended the University of Idaho’s proposed University of Phoenix purchase — and told three U.S. senators to butt out of the debate.

In a letter sent Friday — and shared on Little’s account on X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter — the governor called out Sens. Richard Durbin, D-Ill., Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn.

“If you spent as much time focused on securing the U.S.-Mexico border as you did the University of Idaho, we would have fewer drugs pouring into our country,” Little wrote. “We are taking control of our future in Idaho, and we urge the U.S. Senate not to interfere with efforts to make education more attainable in rural America.”

And while he was at it, Little added another item to the senators’ to-do list: “Perhaps you should focus your attention away from Idaho and do your job by passing a responsible federal budget so our government can function properly.”

On Monday, Durbin, Warren and Blumenthal wrote U of I President C. Scott Green, urging him to ditch the $685 million Phoenix purchase. They said the deal threatens the U of I’s good name and its balance sheet, since it could leave the U of I on the hook for thousands of federal student loan writeoffs. They also suggested that Phoenix is pursuing a sale so it can work around federal laws limiting its ability to collect federal financial aid offered under the GI Bill.

Little’s letter addressed neither issue. But Little, a U of I alum, offered perhaps his strongest defense to date of the Phoenix acquisition.

“We have asked our universities to explore innovative steps toward funding and expanding access to affordable learning opportunities for Idahoans,” he wrote. “This deal has the potential to shift many more Idahoans toward rewarding careers, further strengthening our economy, communities, and families, especially in rural Idaho.”

More coverage: Why the University of Idaho-University of Phoenix affiliation is a federal case.

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Kevin Richert
Kevin Richert

Kevin Richert writes for Idaho Education News, a nonprofit online news outlet supported by grants from the J.A. and Kathryn Albertson Family Foundation, the Education Writers Association and the Solutions Journalism Network.