Republicans and Democrats have resumed their debate over funding for broadband Internet in Greater Minnesota with just over a month to the start of the legislative session.
A special task force recommends 200 million dollars and Governor Mark Dayton wants 100 million. But a key Republican, Farmington Representative Pat Garofalo warns “the cost is sometimes over four thousand dollars per hookup in subsidies, and that’s just not sustainable for expanding broadband across our state.”
Garofalo adds the federal government is already putting hundreds of millions of dollars into broadband in Minnesota over the next couple years. House D-F-L Leader Paul Thissen says last session Republicans ignored broadband as a critical priority for Minnesota’s future but many are now changing their tune.
There’s the same confusion I’ve seen in other places – the Task Force report has recommended $200 million over two years. So the comparisons aren’t really apples to apples but the article highlights the sticking points between parties. Garofalo’s comment is interesting – that it’s too expensive for government to pay for broadband deployment to some households. I think the point is that it’s too expensive for government or the private sector and that’s why the public-private partnership has been recommended.
Realistically there are some areas where the ROI to build is just not there. That’s why they are unserved. BUT as more and more government services move online it seems like government needs to help address the means to reach all citizens and serve all citizens equally. Government may see reduction in costs in other budgets as citizens can take advantage of online services – rather than pay postage to communicate or pay to bus in students, even on the snowiest days or staff DMV office to renew licenses… The cost for deployment is one-time, the savings is not. (And to be fair, there are annual costs associated with service but not as high as the cost to deploy.)