Governor Dayton recommends a Minnesota Broadband Development Office

I listened to Governor Dayton’s recommendations today. Turns out broadband wasn’t top of the list – although online tax for purchasing did make the hour-long talk. (The Governor promotes taxing online purchases. I’ve talked about the Marketplace Fairness Act in earlier posts. Dayton’s reasoning seems to stem from a similar desire to level the playing field for brick and mortar shops as well as collect revenue for the state.) The overall focus, as taken from the Governor’s presentation, is

  • A growing economy that creates jobs and expands the middle class
  • A tax system that is fair for all Minnesotans
  • Public services that give Minnesotans the best value for their dollar

The question for me here is how and where does broadband come in? The good news is that the recommendations do include a Broadband Development Office to be housed in the Department of Commerce.

Broadband Task Force

The Governor recommends funding for a Broadband Development Office. This initiative would coordinate broadband deployment projects and work toward developing a Minnesota Fiber Collaboration Database and a statewide “dig once” program. The Broadband Development Office would supply logistical resources to the Governor’s Broadband Task Force and staff resources to provide technical analysis and advice.

Performance Measures:

1) Successful establishment of a statewide Fiber Collaboration Database for the use of broadband developers; 2) An increase in the amount and effectiveness of federal broadband development funds received in Minnesota; 3) More detailed and specific recommendations from the Task Force; and 4) Progress toward meeting the state broadband goals.

The budget looks like $250,000 per year from 2014 to 2017.

Optimistically I’m going to call that a win. It means someone at the State is going to be thinking about strategies to expand broadband.

There are a couple of performance measures I might add to the list. It would be nice to see the office maintain a list of digital literacy efforts and opportunities. I suspect the Technology Literacy Collaborative would be happy to help with such an effort. Also I would like to see the Office find places within the State where others are talking about broadband and coordinate those efforts and funds as well. On a very high level I perused the MMB presentation for such opportunities. The devil may be in the details but here are some areas where I saw a potential for broadband funding.

  • There is an effort to Invest in our Public Institutions to Prepare Students for the 21st Century Job Market. Some of that will be in internships but some appears to be on equipment (and maybe infrastructure)…
    • Purchase state-of-the-art equipment and train students for the jobs they will have after graduation. (slide 16)
  • There is an effort to Make Key Investments in Prevention Activities and Health Care to Better Control Cost in the Long-term. At least one item seemed to indicate broadband is required (if not supported)…
    • Modernize human services technology systems and develop the technological infrastructure for the Health Insurance Exchange – $29 million (slide 17)
  • There is an effort to Ensure Public Safety Through Increases For Core Services. There is one item that I suspect would require better broadband throughout the state, again if not outright support it…
    • $10.9 million for the Department of Public Safety to replace the outdated State’s Criminal History System and Crime Reporting System (slide 19)
  • There are efforts to improve the daily work of state government that seem as if they too will require, if not outright support better broadband to all corners of the state…
    • Invest in statewide IT systems that support human resources and budget process across all of state government
    • Authorize a public-private partnership to develop a revamped state web portal and new online services for citizens and business

So it’s out there. And now we can and I’m sure will discussion every aspect of the budget because as the Governor noted in his report this is

The first word, but not the final word, on the budget.

Folks wanting to discuss the broadband aspects of the budget in greater detail might be interested in attending the next Broadband Task Force meeting. I’ll be there taking notes but the public is always welcome and it would be a good opportunity to let them know what you think. At least two Legislators are slated to be there: Sen. Dan Sparks and Rep. Sheldon Johnson.

Here are more details:

Governor’s Task Force on Broadband
January 29, 2013 – 10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.
Room G22, Minnesota Department of Transportation
395 John Ireland Boulevard
St. Paul, MN 55155

This entry was posted in MN, Policy by Ann Treacy. Bookmark the permalink.

About Ann Treacy

Librarian who follows rural broadband in MN and good uses of new technology (, hosts a radio show on MN music (, supports people experiencing homelessness in Minnesota ( and helps with social justice issues through Women’s March MN.

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