Faribault broadband editorials: passion for broadband not politics

Broadband is a hot topic in Minnesota. The Faribault Daily News has been a great example. The discussion happening on the pages there certainly parallels other discussions I’ve heard; the gist being broadband is really important but the details (of the technology, funding or politics) are hard. I want to be clear that I know they are hard – and I think about it way more than the average bear. And even clearer that the share message is that broadband is really important!

Intermingled with editorials, broadband still makes the news. I won’t do this for every local paper – it’s just not practical but it’s a taste of what’s happening. Here’s a bibliography of recent articles in the Faribault Daily News – I’ll bold the ongoing editorial discussion…

Feb 24 editorial from Don Novak:

I, like former Rep. Patti Fritz, am hopeful that this year’s legislature will pass a significant broadband expansion package.

The got a detail wrong…

However, making the claim that state government did not do enough last year is simply not true. In fact, last year the state spent $10.6 million on border to border broadband grants, which is the most in state history.

And back to funding…

Instead, given the unprecedented federal investment in broadband, the appropriate state investment should be based on ensuring that state and federal funding is used in a complimentary, rather than a redundant manner.

Our state representative, Brian Daniels understands this and wants to ensure that we are wise in the way we allocate state funds. He is committed to investing an appropriate amount of state resources to supplement the already substantial incoming federal investment to ensure our broadband needs are sufficiently met.

Feb 24 on article on the topic; I’ll just grab the intro

High-speed Internet will soon be on the fast track if some state of Minnesota officials have anything to say. After investing just under $11 million into broadband infrastructure in Minnesota last year, Gov. Mark Dayton is pushing for nearly 10 times that investment in 2016 and, according to some local officials, that’s probably not a bad thing.

“It’s hard for me to answer, as I’m in the technology world, so I’m eager for [broadband expansion in Minnesota],” said Waseca County IT Director Judy Hiller. “But I see so many opportunities and so many states that are bringing broadband into their communities. You’re going to have both sides, but you need Internet to run everything it seems.”

Mar 1 guest editorial from the editor of the Owatonna People’s Press

Legislators are well-advised instead to favor ideas for more modest and/or nonrecurring measures that would help meet what should be the state’s top policy goal in the next decade — attracting and keeping a skilled workforce.

For example, capital investments in higher education, transit and water treatment upgrades, financed with state bonds that carry a 20-year payback, make good sense. So does one-time spending to hasten the arrival of broadband Internet service throughout the state. Tax relief aimed at young working families, such as Dayton’s proposed child care tax credit increase, would be well-timed.

Mar 1 editorial from Joel Erickson

Well, now I’ve heard everything, as Faribault residents struggle with antiquated and insufficient internet service. We look to our elected officials for relief. And what do we find? Rep. Brian Daniels, chief defender of doing nothing.

The Feb. 4 Faribault Daily News had an article about how broadband may fare during the 2016 legislative session. I was stunned to read this paragraph:

“Faribault representative Brian Daniels said his trepidation toward spending greater sums of money is based on the rapid evolution of technology. The problem that we don’t know is that in three to five years or in 10 years, some of this technology may be out of date. I just would hate to see spending too much on broadband at one time if we don’t have enough dollars and then in five years someone comes up with installing something that’s 10 times better than broadband.”

Really? In essence, Daniels is saying that because technology will advance, it would be best if we didn’t invest in broadband right now. Unbelievable. By that rationale, we shouldn’t buy any cars, trucks and motorized equipment that uses wheels on roads to move about because, heck, down the road in the future all motorized vehicles are projected to be hover crafts as soon as someone figures out how George Jetson really pulled that off in the cartoon. We could even stop spending money on roads and bridges. Oh wait, the Republicans have already gone down that road 10 years ago.

Marc 2 in an article on county leaders and regional plans

The session brought together leaders from the cities of Northfield, Dundas, Faribault and Lonsdale, along with the commissioners, to discuss regional economic development priorities with local legislators Rep. Brian Daniels (R-Faribault) in District 24B, Sen. Kevin Dahle (DFL-Northfield) in District 20 and Rep. David Bly (DFL-Northfield) in District 20B, prior to the beginning of the 2016 legislative session.

“These aren’t new ideas,” said Docken. “These are ideas that have been floating around the county for a while. We are bringing them together with this group in hopes of supporting one another.”

The priorities include projects along the I-35 corridor, rural economic development, a bus transit center, improved broadband internet for rural Rice County and parks and trails expansion projects.

Mar 2 Rep in an article on the election this fall broadband comes up…

Gary Schindler, dean of student affairs at Riverland Community College, announced in October he will seek the DFL nomination.

Schindler said he will focus his campaign on workforce development through quality roads and bridges, high-speed broadband Internet, access to workforce housing, investing in the k-12 system and a fairer tax system.

Mar 3 editorial from Carl Mortenson:

After reading Don Novak’s letter from earlier this week, I find it hard to believe there can be so much misinformation about the broadband investments being made in Minnesota.

Some help with details…

In 2014 the DFL led House with Patti Fritz’s help passed $20 million for broadband support. And last time I checked, $10.6 million isn’t bigger than $20 million. While the current GOP led House supported a bill that provided for $10.6 million, it was only after Gov. Dayton and the DFL caucus negotiated the GOP into it.

And back to funding…

Instead of playing politics with the facts, can’t we all just deal in the truth: All of Minnesota needs access to this technology. And, since the GOP is touting their $10.6 million as an accomplishment, can’t they just say we agree broadband is a good idea and that we need to extend it to every corner of our state?

I hope we can come together and get things done without misleading one another. We need to come together as a community to get our issues passed at the capitol instead of playing politics.

Mar 4 guest column from Senator Julie Rosen

I also am a strong proponent of broadband access in our rural school districts. I am working in a bipartisan manner with the federal government to push the broadband initiative in the state in order to ensure all students are equal in the education that is provided to them.

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

About Ann Treacy

I have a Master’s Degree in Library and Information Science. I have been interested or involved in providing access to information through the Internet since 1994, when I worked for Minnesota’s first Internet service provider. I am pleased to be a part of the Blandin on Broadband Team. I also work with MN Coalition on Government Information, Minnesota Rural Partners, and the American Society for Information Science and Technology.

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