Governor Walz has released his budget for the next biennium. On pages 21-22, he outlines $50 million for the MN broadband grants – for the first year of the biennium (2022). This compares to the $120 million introduced in the MN House and expected in the Senate…
Recommendation : The Governor recommends $ 50 million in FY 2022 for the Border -to -Border Broadband Grant program. The recommendation allows the Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) to reserve up to 3% of grant funds for program administration and broadband mapping.
Rationale/Background: Access to robust broadband is now recognized as a critical factor in the economic and social sustainability of all Minnesota communities. The need has only grown dramatically since the start of the pandemic. The state has a broadband mapping program which annually gathers current information from all providers about where broadband internet is available and at what speeds. While great progress has been made over the last several years, with 91% of households and businesses having access to a moderate level of service that meets the state’s 2022 goals; only 87% of rural homes and businesses have access at this minimum definition. In addition, the state as a whole is at 73.6% of homes and businesses meeting the 2026 broadband goal of access to 100Mbps/20Mbps service.
Proposal: This proposal funds the Border -to -Border Broadband Development Grant Program in FY 2022. This funding commitment will build on several years of public and private investments in broadband infrastructure in unserved and underserved areas of the state and will facilitate meeting the statutory goal of border -to -border access of 25Mbps/3Mbps broadband service by the year 2022 (§237.012) and begin to pave the way for achieving the state’s 2026 goal of reaching everyone with a service capable of delivering 100Mbps/20Mbps.
Here is the expenditure review for the Broadband Development in DEED (from page 4) with dollar amounts in thousands…
- FY2018 (Actual) – $28,744
- FY2019 (Actual) – $586
- FY2020 (Actual) – $23,898
- FY2021 (Estimate) – $21,725
- FY2022 (Forecast Base) – $648
- FY2022 (Gov Recommendation) – $50,648
- FY2023 (Forecast Base) – $662
- FY2023 (Gov Recommendation) – $662
Here’s a chart the Governor has included to show the impact of previous grant investments…