A group of Democratic lawmakers in the Minnesota House and Senate want 100 million dollars included in the state budget for expanding broadband Internet access in Greater Minnesota. To those who are reluctant, Duluth Senator Erik Simonson points out the state’s 1.4-billion-dollar budget surplus. He says, “If you’re looking for opportunities to spend one-time monies on things that return themselves ten times over, this is the place to do it.” Senator Kent Eken from Twin Valley echoes, “We need all of Minnesota to thrive economically, and this is a critical piece of that.”
Simonson and his colleagues will have a tough sell. Governor Mark Dayton put 60 million dollars for rural broadband in his budget, but even that will likely be too much for Republicans, who argue private firms are addressing much of the need without state assistance. Democrats respond that’s not true in remote areas of Minnesota.