Sen. Simonson broadband bill moves forward in Senate committee
ST. PAUL, Minn – A small town mayor, an IT professional and a rural county administrator were among the nearly half dozen Minnesotans who traveled long distances to speak in support of Sen. Erik Simonson’s (DFL-Duluth) bill to invest $100 million into broadband grants. The bill received a hearing Monday afternoon in the Senate Jobs and Economic Development Committee.
“Investing in broadband across Greater Minnesota is a wise use of the current budget surplus. Whether or not you live in Worthington, or Chisholm, or the very core of the metro area, your life is affected by having access to or lack of access to adequate broadband. We cannot afford to ignore the cry from our rural towns and regional centers – having access to broadband has evolved far beyond the convenience stage, rather it is critical for maintaining our rural communities. This $100 million dollar investment aligns with the recommendation of the Governor’s Task Force on Broadband Development, and would go a long ways toward meeting our eventual goal of border-to-border coverage,” said Sen. Simonson.
Currently, about 22 percent of homes in Greater Minnesota lack Internet connectivity at basic speeds. According to the Office of Broadband Development, for every dollar invested in broadband in the state, $10 is generated in economic activity.