Duluth News Tribune outlines the importance of broadband investment in their editorial…
The good news is that since 2014, the state has been investing to push high-speed internet deeper and deeper into rural Minnesota. With a belief that all Minnesotans, no matter where we live, ought to have the same access to opportunities borne of technology, the goal of the Border to Border Broadband Development Grant Program has been all-in 100 percent penetration by 2022.
The better news is that since committing to rural broadband, the state’s $85 million investment has resulted in “an admirable 91 (percent) penetration” with Minnesota now “a national model that other states are using to make sure they aren’t left behind,” as Nancy Hoffman of North Branch, Minn., chairwoman of the Minnesota Rural Broadband Coalition, wrote in an op-ed last week distributed statewide, including to the News Tribune Opinion page.
The bad news, unfortunately, is that after four straight years of welcomed broadband bills, a state appropriation last year was vetoed along with just about everything else by then-Gov. Mark Dayton. The veto was purely politics, yet another DFLers-vs.-Republicans spat that got in the way of something beneficial to Minnesotans in favor of party wants. Hoffman called it “political crossfire … over issues not related to broadband.”
“The progress needs to continue this year to make up for lost time,” Hoffman wrote.
To that end, the Minnesota House passed off the floor this session a bill containing $70 million over two years, the amount the Minnesota Rural Broadband Coalition recommended as “exactly how much is necessary to put the program back on track,” as Hoffman wrote. A Senate proposal contains $30 million. Negotiations are underway to find compromise and an appropriate level of funding that will allow Minnesota to reclaim its momentum toward border-to-border broadband.