From the Minnesota Broadband Coalition…
The House Ways and Means Committee lowered broadband funding from $100 million to $25 million in a hearing yesterday afternoon. The move was made following the committee’s adoption of the Budget Resolution, better known as budget targets. This resolution was set by House leadership and not committee chairs or rank and file representatives. The budget resolution only allowed $25 million in spending for broadband.
Rep. Rob Ecklund had no choice but to accept an amendment to his bill that reflects the new budget target of $25 million. “I’m not real thrilled with the amendment,” Rep. Ecklund said when asked of his thoughts during the committee hearing. The broadband bill was amended onto the Agriculture, Housing, and Broadband Omnibus Bill, HF 4366. This allows the House and Senate Agriculture omnibus bills to match up for a future conference committee.
While we are glad the House is proposing additional funding, $25 million is not enough to keep us on track to meet our statutory speed goals and is much less than what could be done given the state has a $9 billion budget surplus. We are asking you to write to your elected officials, including House Speaker Melissa Hortman and Majority Leader Ryan Winkler. Tell them why broadband funding is important to your community and ask that they restore the House’s broadband funding position to $100 million.
Remember to always be respectful and courteous in your messages to elected officials and their staff, even if you disagree with their position!
You can use the Who Represents Me? tool to find your state elected officials’ contact information. Contact information for the Speaker and Majority Leader is as follows:
Speaker of the House Melissa Hortman
Majority Leader Ryan Winkler
This reduction is absolutely disgusting and should be an embarrassment to all members on the ways and means committee. 9+ billion surplus, Rescue Act money coming in and they can’t even make a serious effort to achieve goals set in 2010. They voted unanimously that is outrageous and REP Ecklunds effort was far from adequate. At this rate of funding the State of MN will be working it’s way down on the list of broadband connectivity. SHAMEFUL!
You bring up some good points John. These goals have been in place a long time – and it seems like now is the time to make it happen!