Lieutenant Governor Tina Smith won’t give a dollar amount, but says there will be “robust support” in Governor Mark Dayton’s forthcoming budget to expand broadband Internet access in Greater Minnesota. Smith says, “Every day that we wait, is a day that a small business or a student or a doctor or a family doesn’t have affordable, high-speed Internet access that they need to be a part of our state’s economy.” Last year the governor requested 100 million dollars to expand broadband access. That number was scaled down by Republicans, who contend the private sector is doing the work itself without taxpayer assistance. Smith responds it’s not happening in remote areas where it’s not profitable and so government must step in.
Officials this week announced 34 million dollars in state grants for 42 projects to expand broadband Internet access in Greater Minnesota. Smith applauds local communities that organized to urge their providers to apply for state assistance. She says it “really shows how much… demand there is for this, so maybe we’ll see more of that in some of these counties… where there’s still a great need but we haven’t seen a lot of activity yet.”