The State budget forecast is expected tomorrow morning. It will likely have a direct impact on the odds of funding for broadband this year, and perhaps into the future. MPR News reports…
The DFL-led House has proposed some one-time spending measures, including $500 million for preschool scholarships, child care assistance grants and other pre-kindergarten initiatives.
The Republican-controlled Senate has countered with a package of proposed tax cuts — a reduction in the lowest income tax rate, education and agricultural tax credits and an elimination of any state income tax on Social Security benefits.
Meanwhile, Walz has been hinting he’ll push to bolster state reserves in case of a downturn. But he’s made new spending proposals — from broadband expansion to disaster planning — that would consume tens of millions of dollars.
After the budget forecast is released Thursday, Walz will issue his plans for the money in the weeks to follow. Lawmakers will pass their own proposals before any negotiations can begin. If there is no movement toward a middle ground, that surplus money could just stack up for next year, when lawmakers need to put together another two-year budget.
Governor Walz was clear about his support of increase broadband spending when he announced the 2019 broadband grant winners. And there are bipartisan bills in the House and Senate requesting ongoing funds of $30 million a year for broadband – indicating that broadband may be a topic of consensus. It’s likely that both bills will become a part of a larger omnibus bill and again the budget tomorrow will determine the likelihood of any funding but the signs for broadband are positive.