Advocates want 35 million dollars a year ongoing funding from the state to expand broadband Internet access in rural Minnesota, and bills have been introduced in both the Minnesota House and Senate. Judy Erickson with the Rural Broadband Coalition says it needs to be in the base budget instead of one-time money like in the past. “We need some certainty out there on the landscape,” Erickson says. “There are folks who might need to do multi-year or complex projects to reach some of these areas. It’s difficult to plan a large project if you don’t know if there’ll be money next year,” she says.
The bills have influential Republican and Democratic sponsors in the Minnesota Senate, and bipartisan support in the House as well.
The 20 million dollars appropriated last year was the victim of budget bill vetoes by then-Governor Mark Dayton, prompted by other disagreements with the legislature which was controlled by Republicans.
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