Broadband bills heard in first committee

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Two bills were heard in the Agriculture, Rural Development, and Housing Finance Committee that would fund the Border-to-Border Broadband Development Grant Program. One of the bills would provide funding for the program in 2020 ($35 million), and the other bill would provide funding ($70 million) in both years of the biennium. The Office of Broadband reports the Legislature appropriated, “$20 million [was] appropriated in 2014; $10.588 million in 2015; $35 million in 2016 and $20 million in 2017.” The omnibus budget bill that was vetoed by Governor Dayton last session contained $15 million for FY 2019.

In October 2018, the Governor’s Task Force on Broadband issued a report detailing the success of the program. The chair of the Broadband Task Force said the following in her letter to Governor Dayton, “During the first four years of the grant program, it awarded $85.2 million in funding, in turn leveraging $110.6 million in matching local and/or private investments, making service available to more than 34,000 households, 5,200 businesses and 300 community institutions across Minnesota.” (SF 9, SF 1231)