MN needs to get broadband program back on track, ASAP
The state needs to get the Border-to-Border Broadband Development Grant Program back on track, after the bill funding the program was vetoed last year.
In this wired-world where nearly everything that happens, happens online, there are still 14,500 deserving entities within the Not-Served-Nine-Percent of households, businesses, schools, emergency services, and hospitals in the state still struggling along on the dark side of the digital divide.
We must close that gap quickly, because there is no way to function in this culture or economy with no access to high-speed internet.
A key funding committee in the Minnesota House adopted the Minnesota Rural Broadband Coalition and Gov. Tim Walz's proposal to fund the program at $70 million over the biennium, while the Senate funds the program for one year only at $30 million. The House bill is obviously preferable because it gets access to more people faster.
When the legislature concludes its business for 2019 in May, it should be sure to fund the Border-to-Border Broadband Development Grant program at $70 million. — Dan Larson, Minnesota Rural Counties
(Larson is executive director of the MN Rural Counties organization. Becker County is a member)