Yesterday on the Senate floor, the omnibus agriculture and rural development budget bill (SF 958) passed. The bill includes $40 million for border-to-border broadband expansion and an additional $80 million if federal funds become available. The bill contains no new funding to support Minnesota farmers and people living in rural places as Minnesota emerges from a year long pandemic.
Senator Murphy strengthened broadband language to employ federal funds with an amendment to meet the 2022 broadband goals for people living and working in greater Minnesota. Murphy’s amendment failed when the Republican majority inserted another study of broadband.
After voting yes on this bill, Senator Erin Murphy (DFL-St. Paul), Ranking Minority Member on the Agriculture and Rural Development Committee released the following statement:
“Minnesotans are clear. Broadband is necessary, like water and electricity. $80 million of added funds found bipartisan support in committee. Yesterday, we had an opportunity to finish the job on the Broadband Task Force goals but the Republicans pumped the brakes.
Instead of doing what is necessary for our farms, schools, healthcare, businesses, and for our connectivity, the majority chose to study the issue, again. Republicans claim to be the party of Greater Minnesota but their dismissive inaction on rural broadband tells a different story. For Minnesotans, it is time to act and get the job done.”