The Bemidji Pioneer reports…
So while lawmakers spend the next three months entrenched in debates over hiking taxes and where taxpayer dollars would best be spent, proposals for expanding broadband to rural Minnesota, growing access to child care and boosting state funds aimed at making schools safer could be folded into a final budget later this year with little fuss.
“Those are a couple areas where I think we can find some common ground,” Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka said on Wednesday, Feb. 20.
The bipartisan areas of agreement came as welcome news for groups hoping for additional state funding this year. Broadband development supporters last year saw dollars aimed at expanding access to high-speed internet in rural Minnesota get vetoed as part of an omnibus spending bill.
This time around, they said they’re feeling optimistic.
“I think it gives us a really strong position going into the end of the legislative session,” Minnesota Rural Broadband Coalition spokeswoman Judy Erickson said, pointing to bills that would boost funding for broadband expansion. “I think we have good momentum.”