The House Agriculture Finance and Policy Committee, of which Pursell is Vice Chair, has been given $48 million to work with. She noted that there will be $100 million for the expansion of broadband internet into rural areas that will be part of the Ag budget eventually, but right now it has its own budget line item.
As the chief author of the broadband bill, Pursell expressed some disappointment with the amount that has been allocated, but said it is important to make some sort of investment immediately to get things moving.
“My original bill was for $276 million dollars over two years. The targets came out to less than half of that amount, but it will still be the largest investment Minnesota will have ever made. We’ve been promised funds from the federal government, but because it’s unclear how long it might take to get those funds here, we’re taking action in our state now. We cannot afford to miss another construction season and so we’ll be getting Minnesotans who deserve to be connected to the internet [set up] this year with these funds.”
The omnibus bills will be heard in committees this week and then make their way to the House Floor.