The Austin Daily Herald posts a column from Senator Dan Sparks…
The long nights of the 2019 Legislative Session have arrived. This week my colleagues and I in the Senate started to take up budget bills on the floor, and there has been robust debate and discussion on these important issues as we work together to create a final budget for Minnesota. Our budget is the highest priority for this year, and we must make sure we pass a final budget that reflects our shared values.
The very first budget bill that my colleagues and I passed this year came out of our Agriculture, Rural Development, and Housing Finance Committee. As a member of this committee, I have been working with my colleagues all session hearing bills that fall into this area. Our agriculture industry and rural communities face unique challenges, and we have heard from farmers, advocates, and local officials about many of these issues, and addressing them has been a priority.
A major component of this budget is a $30 million investment in the state’s Border-to-Border Broadband Grant Program. Right now, thousands of Minnesotans lack access to high-quality, high-speed internet. As our society and economy continue to become more interconnected, lacking access to broadband hurts our community’s ability to succeed. This funding is a good step, but I was optimistic that this year we would invest more. In committee, I offered an amendment to match the Governor and House position of $70 million in investment and hope that we will get closer to that number in our final budget.