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Divided Idaho House approves $1 million funding for security, counseling after Moscow murders

14 Idaho representatives voted against the allocation, with some saying they didn't know where the money was really going.

BOISE, Idaho — A $1 million allocation to the University of Idaho passed the state's House Thursday, sending it one step further to being distributed to help with past and future expenses related to the murder of four students.

According to the bill, the funding is "for operating expenditures for the purpose of costs related to a security incident for the period July 1, 2022, through June 30, 2023."

"This is a somewhat somber bill," said Representative Steve Miller, (R) District 24. 

KREM 2 News has been tracking the proposed funding's journey through the statehouse. Miller on Thursday said the funding was to pay for increased security issues, counseling, additional shuttle services and the vigil held after the murders.

"There are many expenses incurred in something like that that we never think about," Miller said.

The University of Idaho provided KREM 2 with a breakdown of estimated incurred and expected costs from Nov. 13, 2022, to the end of the semester on May 15. Much of the money was spent on increased security and police presence on campus. Another large part of the estimated $999,307 was for counseling and crisis services, while nearly $13,000 was spent on the vigil.

The university said a more exact expenditure list is not available yet.

"The original submission was an estimate as some invoices are still coming in. We will be providing a more detailed accounting," said Jodi Walker, the senior director of communications.

That appeared to be a sticking point for 14 representatives who voted against the funding Thursday.

KREM 2 News reached out to every legislator who voted no; those calls and emails were not returned Friday. However, Rep. Joe Alfieri of Coeur d'Alene did respond to our sister station in Boise, Idaho, providing a statement:

I voted against the bill because of the suspiciously round figure of $1m. I'm more than happy to support any bill that would reimburse for actual dollars spent to cover the costs spent by police and local entities in handling this horrible event. But the figure proposed seemed like a guestimate, and no details of any costs were provided. If the bill were to come back with firm numbers, I would enthusiastically vote for it.

Rep. Sage Dixon also responded with this statement:

There were a couple of reasons why I voted 'no'. First, either it was not explained, or I missed the explanation, of what the funds were being used for. Giving $1mil to the Board of Education to pass along to a university is not something to do indiscriminately. Second, I felt this might set a bad precedent of expectation for other public institutions that experience a traumatic event. Davy Crockett's 'Not yours to give' came to mind as well.

Rep. Miller did address the idea one million dollars won't be enough to fund all the school's emergency expenses.

"So this will essentially cover the costs of this through Dec. 31, the end of the year, 2022," he said. "And if there's more that needs to be taken care of later, that'll occur in a different budget process."

The university has to submit an itemized list of how the money will be used no later than Aug. 1.

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