Skip to main content

How much should we spend on rural Internet help? Lawmakers are divided

  • Author:
  • Updated:
    Original:

Less than half of the households in 29 rural Minnesota counties have access to broadband, according to a statement released last week.

"If this was telephone or electricity, people would be in an uproar. This puts rural Minnesota at a huge economic disadvantage in terms of competing statewide, nationally and globally," said Representative Paul Marqaurt, a Democrat from Dilworth, in a statement.

Yet lawmakers can't agree on how much the state should spend improving broadband access in rural areas.

Three budget targets have been unveiled, according to a statement. Governor Mark Dayton proposed investing $100 million, the Senate DFL has proposed $85 million, and House Republicans only want to spend $35 million. The final amount should be decided in May.

Lt. Governor Tina Smith criticized the Republicans' proposal in a separate statement, pointing out that it would "barely make a dent in the need for high-speed, affordable broadband access in Greater Minnesota."

However, the Republicans are the only group that has also outlined how their proposed money should be spent.

Their proposal focuses on helping students, said the Pioneer Press. $7 million would be allocated for school Internet grants, including wi-fi hot spots that students could bring home, and $28 million for rural broadband expansion.

Broadband background

Mark Dayton campaigned for governor in 2010 on making broadband a fixture from border to border, reported MPR. During the last two years, tens of millions of dollars have gone to competitive grant programs designed to bring or boost service to places that lack high-speed connections, said the outlet.

Last year, 15 out of 44 communities that applied won a share of the $11 million in grants for rural broadband projects. Read more about that here. You can also read the latest government report on broadband here.

Next Up

Anthony Edwards

Ant's fast start can't snap Grizzlies winning streak

Memphis extended its streak to 11 games with a 116-108 victory over the Timberwolves.

Kirill Kaprizov

Wild have 2 players named to NHL All-Star Game

The Wild could have a third representative through the "Last Man In" ballot.

trattoria mucci facebook

Popular Italian eatery in Uptown to permanently close

The owner of Trattoria Mucci said it "just didn't work out this time."

colbert redmons billboard jan 2022

MN popcorn shop gets Times Square billboard via 'The Late Show'

The last time Redmon's Popcorn got national attention, it shut down two days later.

child parent mask covid pexels

Frey backtracks on dining mandate: Kids age 2-4 won’t need test

The mayor told Chad Hartman the city is already working to change its just-announced regulation.

264 Willmar Ave SE, Willmar, Minnesota - October 2019

11 staff members on leave after refusing Willmar district's COVID policy

The staff members were placed on leave after they "opted not to comply."

TIMOTHY BORRMAN

Man charged with stealing van with dog inside in South St. Paul

He apparently said he didn't realize there was a dog inside.

Screen Shot 2022-01-13 at 12.35.16 PM

Here's where COVID-19 case rates are the highest in Minnesota

The highest rates can be found mainly in southeastern Minnesota and around the Twin Cities metro area.

als breakfast facebook post

After staff got COVID, someone sent Al's Breakfast a letter mocking its vaxx requirement

"So sorry to hear your fully vaccinated staff is sick with Covid and you are forced to close," the letter begins.

snow - 12-10-21 - Joe Nelson - 2

NWS releases snowfall forecast for specific Minnesota cities

Here's how much snow is forecast for more than 50 cities in Minnesota, including the majority of the metro area.

Related