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Our View/Broadband: Senate funding still falls short

On Friday’s Opinion page, in an editorial critical of Minnesota lawmakers and the governor’s office and their lack of follow-through and support for broadening the reach of broadband, especially into rural and nonmetro Minnesota (Our View: “Follow through on broadband pledge”), the News Tribune reported that the DFL-controlled Senate had been quiet so far this session on broadband and hadn’t yet released budget-proposal specifics. Between the time that was written late Thursday and the time it was published in print editions Friday morning, however, Minnesotans learned the Senate included $17 million for broadband in a budget proposal.

Then, on Friday, House Republicans, who had snubbed broadband entirely in their initial budget proposal, found a way to include $8 million.

The editorial’s view is unaffected. The most recent governor’s task force on broadband had recommended a $100 million investment to achieve the governor’s campaign promise of “border-to-border” Internet speeds fast enough for video chatting. The Legislature last year came through with $20 million. So even if the Senate’s $17 million is approved, Minnesota still would be 63 percent short of its identified need. If the House Republicans’ $8 million is approved, Minnesota still would be 72 percent underfunded. And if the governor’s proposed $30 million for broadband this year is approved, Minnesota still would be only halfway there.