Rep Kresha proud to lead charge to increase broadband funding in the MN House

Representative Kresha has a letter to the editor in the Brainerd Dispatch about his role in the broadband fund at the Minnesota Legislature…

One of the most rewarding parts of working at the Capitol is seeing ideas turn into law to help residents in our state. Since I was sworn-in, I’ve tried to provide high-speed broadband internet access for our rural areas. With the passage and signature of our supplemental budget bill, $35 million will flow to increasing broadband access. Couple this with the $10.5 million last year and this biennium invests a record $45 million for rural broadband.

I’m proud to lead the charge in the House for increased funding. It’s an issue with bipartisan support, and something that affects numerous Minnesotans. In a time when lawmakers are accused of playing party politics, it’s reassuring to see agreement on both sides of this issue.

Kresha has been very active in supporting broadband – from visiting with rural communities to discuss the issue, talking to the Minnesota Broadband Task Force at the Capital and at an industry meeting this spring he connected increased funding to telecom reform (a bill that also passed this year). This year, the House’s proposal for broadband funding has consistently been lower than proposals by either the Senate ($85 M or Governor Dayton ($100 M).

Senator Schmit view on $35 million for broadband: clear win

The Kenyon Leader posts an editorial from Senator Schmit celebrating the $35 million for broadband…

Among its highlights, our supplemental budget bill adds $35 million to Minnesota’s incredibly successful broadband grant fund, which in its first two years has extended critical Internet connectivity to roughly 10,000 homes, over 1,000 businesses, and hundreds of community anchor institutions – such as libraries, schools, and hospitals.

The legislative session, like the baseball season, can be long and arduous, with its share of hot streaks and slumps. The past four years have been nothing short of transformative for Minnesota and our shared priorities. We’ve made tremendous gains in key areas, and we’re poised for success in those that remain.

Local elected official get push back from constituent for lack of broadband support

It will be interesting to see where constituents land on supporting politicians based on the investment they are making in broadband. (The Legislature agreed to $35 million; the Governor recommended $100 million.) Here’s how one constituent felt based on his letter to the editorial in the Faribault Daily News

Daniels walked out on supporting broadband funding for rural Minnesota. After stingily agreeing to only a $10.6 million state-wide investment in 2015 (when the governor’s Task Force on Broadband estimates a $200 million need), Daniels was recently quoted in these pages saying, “I would just hate to see spending too much on broadband at one time if we don’t have enough dollars….”

Bluff County Newspaper: Broadband becomes an economic priority

It’s interesting to see the reaction to the $35 million in the surplus budget for broadband. Here’s what the Bluff County Newspaper says…

However, this is an issue the state, and even federal government, must be involved in since the networks extend over wide geographic areas and, like rural electrification a century ago, is too costly for the sparsely populated areas to handle on their own.

The Minnesota Legislature just before adjourning midnight Sunday allocated $35 million in extra grants for broadband development, which was short of the $100 million request from Gov. Mark Dayton. Still, it got through the hectic session this year, which is more than can be said about a traditional infrastructure program — transportation.

A decade ago, these issues weren’t even under consideration as part of the economic development puzzle. Today, providing access to daycare and improving broadband are finding universal consensus that they are more than just an individual concern.

The article also details a lot of focus effort but it’s the last line that I think is so wise.

Fillmore County Journal say forget about broadband invest in main street aesthetics

While most of the Minnesota local papers I’ve seen support greater investment, the Fillmore County Journal is saying forget broadband…

There’s been a lot of chatter about how our Internet speeds are too slow in greater Minnesota.

Without a doubt, as a point of comparison between Rochester and small communities in this region, there’s a tremendous disparity. In the big city of Rochester, people pay less and get more — for obvious reasons. They have a larger population base.

They suggest investment in main street buildings…

If you ask me, don’t waste $100 million on increasing Internet speeds. Direct those funds toward the aesthetics of small town Minnesota. There’s no sense in increasing Internet speeds to dilapidated buildings. We need to get our priorities straight.

I was struck by the article because it is so contrary to what I’m reading in other local papers.

Last time I looked at Fillmore County (Feb 2015), they were about 70 percent covered (using the 2015 speed goals of 10-20 Mbps down and 5-10 Mbps up). But they had recently (2013-2015) gone from 7 percent coverage to 70 percent once CenturyLink had accepted CAF funding (earlier funding than the CAF II mentioned these days).

I don’t see building renovation and broadband as separate tactics for encouraging commerce. I think business owners want both – a roof and a broadband connection. In the gig economy more of us can work without a roof than work with broadband. And while I don’t want to eat at a restaurant without a roof – the way I find restaurants is online. So it’s really not an either or question.

I wonder if there are policy makers who feel the same way as the Fillmore County Journal.

Albert Lea Tribune applauds State funding for broadband

According to the Albert Lea Tribune

To efforts to bring more broadband funding to Greater Minnesota.

Though it’s still unclear how much funding for broadband will be included by the end of the session, it is promising to see that both the House and Senate have appropriated funding for it in their bills.

We support a Senate bill that includes $85 million in broadband investment over the House version for $25 million because of how vital it is for economic development.

Local leaders have lobbied for this funding, stressing its importance for local business. We hope in the end, legislators will see the value in these dollars for Greater Minnesota.

Senate Broadband Press Conference Wednesday at 10 am – an invitation from Senator Schmit

I wanted to share the following invitation from Senator Schmit. I will be there to take notes…

senator matt schmitSenate colleagues, broadband stakeholders and I will be holding a press conference this Wednesday, April 27, to voice support for the Senate broadband proposal outlined below. The event will take place at 10AM in Room 2237 of the Senate Building, located at 95 University Avenue in St Paul.

Please let me know if you’re interested in joining us. Otherwise the next month will be a critical time for negotiations with the House regarding the level of funding for our ‘Border-to-Border Broadband Competitive Grant Fund’ and related policy. If you have not done so already, now would be a good time to contact your local legislators and/or newspaper and urge support for this important legislation.

As previously outlined below, the Senate broadband proposal would:

  • Per Broadband Task Force recommendations, set state speed goals at 25/3 by 2022 and 100/20 by 2026
  • Apply the goals to our definition of “underserved” areas as we did in 2014 when the broadband fund was created
  • Fund the fund at an appropriate level of $85M to inspire collaborative planning, applications, and deployment across the state

Thanks for your continued interest and engagement in this important issue. Please let me know if you’re interested in joining us tomorrow — or if you have any questions or concerns regarding the broadband discussion taking place at the State Capitol.

Best,

Matt Schmit
State Senator / District 21
sen.matt.schmit@senate.mn