Earlier this year, Gov. Tim Walz submitted his two-year state budget that called for a dramatic general fund increase for the state’s Border-to-Border Broadband Development Grant Program. Specifically, the governor asked that taxpayers fund $120 million in fiscal year 2022 for the program to serve unserved and underserved areas of the state.
This program began six years ago and has spent $126 million from taxpayers on over 179 projects that connected 57,000 homes throughout the state. The administrations says that they remain committed to providing high-speed Internet access to anyone in the state who desires service.
Thus, it was surprising to see that the governor’s request of $120 million was dramatically cut by House DFL leaders to $30 million for FY 2022. I’m not good at the math but that looks to me like a 75% cut from the governor’s proposal.
Perhaps legislators are counting on funding broadband expansion in Minnesota from President Biden’s Infrastructure bill. In that proposal, he sets aside $100 billion for broadband that would doom the plan from the start: the Biden Administration wants to expand broadband access by having that service provided by cities and other municipalities rather than private companies.
What could go wrong, you ask? Check out our Freedom Foundation of Minnesota report on just how bad municipal broadband can be for taxpayers.
To read more about the broadband boondoggle, check out this commentary in the Washington Times – Broadband boondoggle: Not all government spending on infrastructure is an investment.