Governor Dayton announces budget including $100 million for broadband – here’s the local press view

Governor Dayton’s budget announcement, which includes $100 million for broadband, is all over the news. More than that – it’s all over the headlines! I’m going to try to post a index of articles here. I’ll highlight the parts that I think give insight. I’m including them all because I think it’s important to see how many people are talking and what they are saying. Last year at this time we were talking about how broadband was getting forgotten because advocates lost focus – this year I think the advocates getting talking and are being heard. (The push for the Minnesota Broadband Vision has been a good tool help raise a collective voice.)

Here’s the news from DEED (Department of Employment and Economic Development)…

Broadband Development Grant Program: $100 Million

In May of 2014, Governor Dayton signed the first official Border-to-Border Broadband Development Grant Program funding that went to improving access to high-speed broadband for thousands of households, schools, businesses and community institutions throughout the state.

This Legislative Session, the Governor is proposing an increase of $100 million in state funds for broadband access grants that will bring high-speed Internet to more unserved and underserved corners of the state.

MinnPost includes a helpful chart…

portion of chart from MinnPost

Portion of chart from MinnPost

From the St Paul Pioneer Press..

Gov. Mark Dayton proposed a supplemental budget Tuesday that spends the majority of the state’s $900 million surplus on things Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party members say should be top priorities for the 2016 Legislature.

Focusing on expanding broadband service, tackling racial disparities and providing tax cuts, the $698 million proposal is split between $411 million in one-time spending and $287 million in ongoing funding increases. The proposal also resurrects a gasoline tax hike to fund the state’s transportation needs and leaves about $200 million unspent to protect against future economic downturns.

And

$100 million to expand high-speed Internet access in rural Minnesota. There is bipartisan support for state spending on broadband access, although the cost and goals of the program are in debate. The funding Dayton proposes, which may be allocated over several years, would boost current spending by tenfold but would be administered similarly to the current grant program.

Minneapolis Star Tribune mentioned Dayton’s focus…

Dayton said he would only pay for urgent spending priorities and is determined to beat back ongoing spending proposals that could blow a hole in future budgets.

And potential bipartisan support for broadband…

Knoblach hinted that there could already be some areas of agreement, including more rural broadband Internet funding.

“There are some things that I expect we’ll agree with the governor on,” Knoblach said.

You can hear the story on Minnesota Public Radio – including these broadband highlights…

Dayton declined to recommend use of the entire surplus in his update to the two-year budget adopted last spring. Of the nearly $700 million in new spending suggestions, more than $400 million would pay for things that don’t build in long-term obligations for the state, such as $100 million for broadband expansion grants and $39 million for cybersecurity split between a state technology agency and a data-breach detection initiative housed at the University of Minnesota.

And a flag for a someone possibly interested in a smaller investment in broadband..

House Majority Leader Joyce Peppin raised concerns about the added spending in the governor’s proposal. Pepin said early childhood education, for example, received a significant increase in the current budget. She also thinks the governor’s proposed broadband spending is too high.

“(I’m) a little surprised that there’s so many additional requests for dollars, when really our goal is to provide tax relief,” said Peppin, R-Rogers. “We feel Minnesotans have been taxed enough, and we would really prefer those dollars to go to tax relief.”

InForum also leads with broadband budget…

Giving all Minnesotans equal access to high-speed Internet and promoting racial economic equality are Gov. Mark Dayton’s top requests in seeking a $700 million budget boost.

Each would cost $100 million.

From La Crosse Tribune

Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton’s proposed budget released Tuesday would bring new government aid to Winona area cities, boost broadband funding for rural parts of the state, expand tax credits for childcare and education costs, and tackle longstanding racial economic disparities while saving the rest of the surplus.

From the St Cloud Times

A week into the 2016 legislative session, Dayton released his proposal to use the projected $900 million budget surplus to tackle economic disparities, expand existing tax credits for child care and education costs and expand broadband Internet access in rural Minnesota. The Democratic governor also proposed leaving $200 million unspent in case of an economic slowdown. …

As outlined in his State of the State address last week, the governor is proposing $100 million to expand broadband Internet access in underserved rural areas.

Mankato Free Press

The budget addresses several topics Dayton cited as top priorities during his State of the State address last week, such as using $100 million to better connect rural Minnesota with broadband Internet. Stressing the importance of aiding middle-class residents, the budget renews his previous calls to expand a child care tax credit to 92,000 families and to offer an estimated 18,000 families extra help for educational expenses. Another tax credit expansion would boost tax refunds to working families making less than $55,000.

Republicans are on board with putting more money into broadband grants — though they quibble on the total amount — but wanted more money to go toward tax relief.

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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