Today the MN House Committee Greater Minnesota Jobs and Economic Development Finance Division, heard from Representative Ecklund on HF 3029 – which includes broadband development grant program annual statutory appropriation provided, and money appropriated. Chair Pelowski’s (DE 1 amendment to HF 3029 was accepted. After some discussion the bill was moved to Ways & Means. The Senate will discuss a similar bill on Wednesday (April 29) in Finance.
There was concern about State budgeting issues given the impact of COVID19. There was concern about the speed on impact on rural communities given in the impact of COVID19. There was concern about equitable access to funds for areas that need it There was concern about increased state match for grants from 50 to 55 percent.
A hard truth that Brent Christensen (from MN Telecom Alliance) shared – is that even if they do appropriate this additional funds, it doesn’t that mean that the work will be done (that MN will have ubiquitous broadband) but it means it will be done quicker.” Angie Dickison (from Office of Broadband Development) went through the math and if they do add $10 million onto the grant program that will only help serve 2 percent of the 163,000 homes and businesses that need access and that’s only to the speed goals of 2022 – or 25 Mbps down and 3 Mbps up.