From the MN Broadband Coalition…
Governor Proposes $170 Million in New Broadband Funding
Gov. Tim Walz outlined a portion of his 2022 supplemental budget plan this afternoon which includes $170 million for the state’s Border-to-Border Broadband Infrastructure Grant Program. The funds are in addition to the $70 million from the Capital Projects Fund that lawmakers allocated last year in the biennial budget.
“To continue growing Minnesota’s economy, we must invest in the people who made it strong in the first place,” said Governor Walz. “By investing in workforce development, cutting taxes for the middle class and working families, lowering costs, and expanding access to resources like technical education and high-speed broadband, we will improve economic prosperity across the state and grow the workforce we need to compete.”
“The Minnesota Rural Broadband Coalition is very pleased that Gov. Walz has proposed this historic investment in broadband funding,” said Jay Trusty, Chair of the Coalition. “Closing the digital divide is one of the most pressing issues of our time and this investment help will level the playing field for rural communities across the state.”
State economists projected a nearly $8 billion budget surplus in December. Legislators will return to Saint Paul on January 31 to begin the 2022 legislative session and decide how to divvy up the massive influx of revenue, in addition to other pressing items.
There is no news yet on if or how the state will spend the remaining $110 million Capital Projects Fund allocation it is set to receive from the U.S. Treasury as part of the American Rescue Plan Act. Treasury guidance was issued this fall and made clear the funds should be used for broadband connectivity projects. The Coalition has asked legislators and the governor’s administration to direct those funds to the Border-to-Border fund.