From the MN Broadband Coalition…
The Coalition recently sent this letter to legislative leaders and the Governor’s Office regarding the projected $1.6 billion budget surplus the state will have in the next two years. We will make a strong push for full funding for the broadband grant program in the final three months of the legislative session.
Here’s the letter…
To: The Honorable Governor Tim Walz
The Honorable Lieutenant Governor Peggy Flanagan
Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka
Speaker of the House Melissa Hortman
Senate Minority Leader Susan Kent
House Minority Leader Kurt Daudt
From: Minnesota Rural Broadband Coalition
2401 Broadway Ave #1
Slayton, MN 56172
March 1, 2021
On behalf of our more than 90 coalition members, the Minnesota Rural Broadband Coalition urges you to include $120 million for the Border-to-Border Broadband Infrastructure Grant Program in the 2022-2023 biennial budget. The COVID-19 pandemic has made it crystal clear that every Minnesotan needs access to broadband internet. Yet, we know that up to 20% of rural Minnesotans still don’t have access to even the bare minimum speeds necessary to work or learn from home.
The Coalition is pleased to see that the state will have a $1.6 billion budget surplus over the next two years. There may also be additional federal resources coming to the state should a coronavirus relief package pass through Congress. We can make a historic investment in broadband infrastructure with these resources and begin to finally close the digital divide in our state.
Communities with access to high-quality, affordable broadband have done better during the pandemic than those without access. Many things like working from home, virtual learning, or telehealth will not be going away, and they all require a broadband connection. The Coalition thanks you for your leadership on this issue and once again urges you to fully fund our state broadband grant program.
Chair, Minnesota Rural Broadband Coalition
CC: Sen. Torrey Westrom, Sen. Julie Rosen, Rep. Rob Ecklund, Rep. Rena Moran, Rep. Gene Pelowski, Commissioner Steve Grove, Angie Dickison, Jon Kelly