Thanks to Ann Higgins for keeping me in the know with a heads up on a recent letter from the National Association of Telecommunications Officers and Advisors (NATOA), the National Association of Counties (NACo) and their members sent to key Senators asking them to not to pull out money previously promised for broadband.
Here’s a quick description taken from the NATOA web site…
Last week, the War Supplemental Appropriations Bill (H.R. 4899) passed by the House contained a last minute amendment that would rescind funding from a number of programs in an effort to offset increased spending on the Afghanistan War. Included in these cuts was $602 million in funding to BTOP and BIP (in total). The Bill will now be considered by the Senate who previously passed a Supplemental War Appropriations Bill that did not include the cuts.
In the letter, NATOA President Ken Fellman and NACo Executive Director Larry Naake urged Senate leaders to oppose the rescissions to the BTOP and BIP programs, stating “the proposed rescissions to BTOP and BIP would likely cost our citizens thousands of jobs that would not be created by the program. Job creation was one of the central purposes of the ARRA and the BTOP and BIP programs in particular. Budget cuts should be targeted at wasteful spending and unnecessary programs – they should leave alone programs that are intended to (and do) create jobs in a time when unemployment is such a significant issue for our country.”
So what does this mean for Minnesota?
It doesn’t seem as if they intend to rescind funds to programs that have been awarded money – but chances for anyone still in the hopper are at best dramatically reduced.
In an earlier post I outlined the BIP proposals that related in any way to Minnesota. (Here’s a list of the BTOP proposals.) There were almost 40 BIP proposals and more than 50 BTOP, although many of the BTOP proposals are national or multi-state projects that touch but don’t center on Minnesota.
Four Minnesota projects have received funding (Zayo/Anoka, Federated Telephone, Leech Lake Reservation and the Communications Services for the Deaf CDS project which involves but doesn’t focus on MN).
That leaves a lot of projects in the hopper. So if you’re one of those projects and/or you think it’s important for ARRA funds to continue to support these broadband projects, consider writing to our Minnesota Senators to urge them to support a final package that leaves the $600+ million in place so that projects will continue to get funded.