Reactions to Minnesota Broadband Legislative Discussions

There are a couple of conversations that are happening in the Minnesota Legislature these days that relate broadband: $100 million for broadband development and reinstating telecom equipment sales tax exemptions for providers. TO get myself caught up after a few weeks out of town I thought I’d see what other folks were saying about the legislation – and why not share what I found…

On the $100 million broadband fund

According to the Post Bulletin, Senator Matt Schmit implores folks to look into the funding this and not to defer to next year…

Rather than an overly prescriptive one-size-fits-all approach, the bipartisan border-to-border broadband fund will empower local communities, cooperatives and private providers to offer their best ideas for leveraging, on a competitive basis, necessary outside capital. The bill is clear on who’s eligible, what projects would be prioritized and how funding would be awarded.

The Office of Broadband Development and Department of Employment and Economic Development would be responsible for deploying funds. DEED has proven capable in administering similar competitive grant programs in the past, and it could apply the best lessons from states such as California, Illinois, and New York that have similar funds up and running today.

The Fargo-Moorhead InForum Editors also implores the Governor to rethink his position and push for funding now…

Greater Minnesota is falling behind in the broadband revolution. The governor’s proposed delay assures the state will fall further behind, and that the cost of playing catch up will escalate. The stakeholders in rural broadband expansion know what has to be done and they know how to do it. Customer demand is out there. The economic benefits the technology can bring will, in time, far outweigh initial investments.

Rather than seek a legislative delay, the governor should enthusiastically support legislation that would establish a $100 million broadband infrastructure fund.

The Austin Daily echoes the same sentiment…

There have been committees, task forces and the usual delay tactics on this topic in St. Paul. All advisory bodies have issued reports on how critical broadband is to the future of the Minnesota economy.

Enough talk. Now is the time to act. We urge Gov. Dayton and the state Legislature to get behind the creation of a $100 million broadband infrastructure fund to provide assistance to public agencies, private corporations and nonprofit organizations seeking to bring broadband technology to rural Minnesota.

To be fair, not everyone is signing on to broadband funding. There was a letter to the editor calling broadband a boondoggle

My first question any time I see taxpayer-funded expenditures involving the word “billion” is: Do we really have a problem? Is there a growing demand? Or is this another example of the familiar “government knows best” philosophy? What if people don’t want to subscribe to broadband because they just don’t care about what’s happening on Twitter? How long before the next do-gooder decides that people not having broadband is a pressing national issue and requires them to buy it?

On the sales tax exemption

A letter to the editor in the Minneapolis Star Tribune from industry leaders (Brent Christensen and Mike Martin) supports reinstating the tax exemption…

Restoring the state’s sales-tax exemption on telecommunications equipment, a tax no other industry is subject to, will ensure that Minnesota remains a focus for private-sector investment in telecommunications infrastructure. Economic studies point out that any lost sales-tax revenue is more than made up for in the industry’s positive economic impact on the state’s GDP. The telecommunications industry has invested more than $5 billion in the last six years alone.

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 (blandinonbroadband.org), hosts a radio show on MN music (mostlyminnesota.com), supports people experiencing homelessness in Minnesota (elimstrongtowershelters.org) and helps with social justice issues through Women’s March MN.

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