The International Falls Journal’s Editorial promotes state support of rural broadband…
The ability to live and play here while staying connected to the rest of the world seems increasingly more important to the economic viability of our future.
That’s why we’re excited that there appears to be bipartisan support for funding expansion and improvement of broadband internet.
Both bodies of the Legislature and Gov. Tim Walz have made broadband a top priority this session. Walz included $70 million for broadband funding in his budget proposal.
wo bills that would provide funding for the Border-to-Border Broadband Development Grant program were heard in the Senate Agriculture, Rural Development, and Housing Finance Committee on Feb. 27. Both bills were laid over for possible inclusion in an omnibus bill.
The grant program helps unserved and underserved cities get connected to broadband service by providing up to half a project’s infrastructure costs. The Office of Broadband Development says $70 million over the next biennium is necessary to provide statewide broadband access that meets the state’s speed goals of 25 Megabits per second, or Mbps, download and 3 Mbps upload by 2022.
Senate File 9 would fund the program with the recommended $70 million over the next biennium, while SF 1231 would provide only $35 million in one-time funding for fiscal year 2020. The House is expected to hold a similar hearing in the coming weeks on HF 7, the companion bill to SF 9.