Minnesota Legislators settle on $35 million for broadband for 2017

Yesterday the Conference Committee met to make decisions on Omnibus Supplemental Budget – they came up with $35 million for broadband.

Here’s the video of the agreement; it’s short because it’s the decision, not the discussion.

So it’s $35 for the next year. There’s $500,000 for low income. They are looking at funding underserved and unserved areas; unserved is defined by less than 25 Mbps down and 3 Mbps up. Underserved is 100/20. (Those speeds are also the speed goals – 25/3 by 2022 and 100/20 by 2026.

They have worked out a solution with prevailing wage issues – that was a concern with providers. Also there’s a challenge opportunity for incumbent providers who can invoke that if someone proposals a project in their area.

 

Quick roundup of media reaction…

According to Session Daily

A contentious issue since the beginning of the session, the Border-to-Border Broadband Plan may have finally reached a compromise for its funding.

The often-debated original House proposal saw a $15 million appropriation in Fiscal Year 2017 and $25 million in Fiscal Year 2018 to fund the program. Gov. Mark Dayton has requested $100 million in his supplemental budget. A Senate proposal came much closer to meeting that request, appropriating $85 million in Fiscal Year 2017.

Under the budget agreement, the program would receive $35 million in Fiscal Year 2017. Of the appropriation, no more than $5 million would be used to serve underserved areas, and up to $1 million may be used for administrative costs; $500,000 could be awarded to expand availability to areas that contain a significant portion of low-income households.

“This was a leadership interest on both sides, and I am pleased with the compromise at this time,” Sen. Matt Schmit (DFL-Red Wing) said.

As one-time appropriations, funds would work to further provide high-speed Internet access to Greater Minnesota by furthering availability, testing accuracy and deploying development.

By no later than 2022, the program would be required to reach all Minnesota businesses and homes who lack access to wire-line broadband service at speeds of at least 25 megabits per second download and three megabits per second upload.

By 2026, all businesses and homes would be required to have access to speeds up at least 100 megabits per second download, and 20 megabits per second upload.

Some details seem off – for example, it doesn’t seem like there’s $5 million for unserved areas BUT that projects can apply for more than $5 million – but I think their summary is helpful.

State Scoop posted about the disagreement on how to spend the money – the argument of unserved vs underserved areas.

From Duluth Tribune

Broadband high-speed Internet expansion would get $35 million in the next year, the same amount as efforts to reduce racial economic disparities. Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton asked for almost three times that amount for each issue, but Bakk said the governor will accept the lower amount because “he also thinks we have to get a bill to get out of town.”

This entry was posted in Funding, 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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