MSBA at the Capitol — House committee fails on broadband funding

MSBA at the Capitol — House committee fails on broadband funding

During the 2014 MSBA Delegate Assembly, Delegates overwhelmingly passed a resolution to support the Border-to-Border Broadband effort in our state. High-speed broadband service in every home in Minnesota allows teachers to extend learning beyond the classroom and expands learning for all students. Cities and counties around the state see this effort as one of the state’s biggest economic development needs and have worked hard to establish the program to the current level.

On Wednesday, the House Job Growth and Energy Affordability and Finance Committee failed to include any funding for the Border-to-Border Broadband Development Grant Program in its omnibus bill. Committee Chairman Rep. Pat Garofalo said a hardwired system for rural broadband is too expensive. He said wireless and satellite Internet are better options.

The bill also eliminates the funding for the Office of Broadband Development which helps communities and residents understand the options for obtaining broadband service.

The discussion is not over yet, since Gov. Mark Dayton included $30 million for broadband in his budget proposal. Lt. Gov. Tina Smith said, “Access to high-speed, affordable broadband Internet is not just nice, it is necessary.”

The Border-to-Border Broadband Development Grant Program was established in 2014. Earlier this year, the state announced the first grant recipients, who will receive a total of $19.2 million to help fund 17 broadband projects throughout the state. The recipients were chosen out of dozens of applicants who sought more than $44 million in funding.

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