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A look at the state-level focus on broadband

April 08, 2021
By: Kevin Michel

While the new administration is rolling out a new infrastructure proposal that includes $100 billion over an 8-year period for greater broadband coverage and affordability, the states have been busy in 2021 with their own broadband proposals. Governors across the country are responding to the digital divide that became even more obvious during the pandemic as students struggled to access online learning, individuals turned to the internet for telehealth appointments, and much of the workforce pivoted to remote work arrangements. This week, we take a look at some of the new broadband proposals revealed in the governors’ State-of-the-State addresses or proposed budgets.

Arizona – Gov. Doug Ducey proposed more than $40 million in funding for rural broadband expansion. Some of the funding is dedicated to expanding the Rural Broadband Development Grant Program, a program working to accelerate the development of rural broadband infrastructure directly to homes and businesses.

Arkansas - Gov. Asa Hutchinson proposed $30 million in funding to expand high-speed internet into more rural areas of the state.

California -  A $10 billion infrastructure bill is set to include funding for building out broadband infrastructure to connect the entire state, according to Gov. Gavin Newsom. The state legislature has also introduced the Broadband for All Act, a bill that asks state voters to approve a separate $10 billion bond that would help buildout broadband infrastructure and increase access to high-speed internet, prioritizing unserved and disadvantaged communities.

Colorado – In a state economic stimulus plan using unanticipated revenue surplus, Gov. Jared Polis and lawmakers announced between $50 million to $75 million to expand broadband internet access in the state. The governor’s State-of-the-State address also outlined a desire to improve the state’s broadband infrastructure.

Connecticut – Gov. Ned Lamont announced plans to submit legislation to the General Assembly with the goal of making broadband internet more accessible to residents, particularly those in underserved households. The governor’s State-of-the-State address signaled a push to expand the state’s rural broadband access and infrastructure as well.

Georgia – Gov. Brian Kemp proposed $20 million for fiscal year 2021 and $10 million per year moving forward to boost access to rural broadband grants. The governor also announced a $47 million project in the state to build a 1,600-mile fiber optic network in central Georgia.

Illinois – Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced that an additional $50 million in state matching grants will be awarded this year to make progress on the state’s goal of universal broadband access by 2024.

Indiana – With the goal of bringing broadband to all residents in the state, Gov. Eric Holcomb requested $100 million for broadband buildout in his State-of-the-State address.

Iowa – Gov. Kim Reynolds announced a goal of bringing affordable, high-speed broadband to all Iowans by 2025. She has committed $450 million over the next four years to reach that goal.

Kansas – Gov. Laura Kelly announced a roadmap for the state’s economy going forward. Broadband is one of the five focus areas in the plan.

Kentucky – In his State-of-the-State address, Gov. Andy Beshear announced $50 million in his budget to fund the last mile of broadband, which he said is the first time that state dollars have been used to invest in expanding broadband. However, the state legislature recently rejected this proposal.

Maine – Gov. Janet Mills proposed $30 million for infrastructure and affordable internet funding in her State-of-the-State budget proposals.

Massachusetts – In January, Gov. Charlie Baker announced three programs to boost internet connectivity statewide, including a subsidy program to assist job seekers in the MassHire system that are facing a technology barrier.

Missouri – In his State-of-the-State address, Gov. Michael Parson requested a $5 million investment to expand and improve broadband services across the state.

Nebraska – Gov. Pete Ricketts proposed an investment of $20 million in each of the next two years to help 30,000 households get broadband connectivity.

Nevada – The Governor’s Office of Science, Innovation, and Technology has partnered with a private organization to tailor broadband programs to the many unique rural communities across the state.

New Hampshire – The state recently approved the creation of a matching grants program using federal money to build out broadband internet service in rural communities. Gov. Chris Sununu plans to use aid dollars from the American Rescue Plan to fund the program.

New Jersey – The state recently announced it has closed the digital divide that exists among students.

New Mexico – Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham called on the state legislature to commit roughly $200 million to new broadband investments.

New York – In his State-of-the-State address, Gov. Andrew Cuomo indicated the state’s focus on working to make broadband affordable. The governor also proposed a plan to require $15 per month high-speed internet service for low income families, which is part of his 2021 Connectivity Agenda to Close the Digital Divide,

North Carolina – Gov. Roy Cooper recently announced $30 million in awards to fund 18 broadband infrastructure projects as part of the Growing Rural Economies with Access to Technology Grant program.

Ohio – Gov. Mike DeWine recently announced his recommendation for a $290 million investment towards broadband expansion in the next two-year state budget. It would be the state’s largest investment in internet infrastructure to date. The funds would cover the creation of the Ohio Residential Broadband Grant Program.

Oregon –In her State-of-the-State address, Gov. Kate Brown proposed a $118 million investment in broadband expansion, with more than $10 million dedicated to expanding connectivity for schools without sufficient broadband services.

Pennsylvania – In his State-of-the-State address. Gov. Tom Wolf said his proposed budget would make historic investments in infrastructure in the state, including rural broadband projects.

South Carolina – Gov. Henry McMaster proposed $30 million to the Office of Regulatory Staff to continue rural broadband expansion efforts through public and private matches for infrastructure projects.

South Dakota – In her State-of-the-State address, Gov. Kristi Noem proposed a $100 million budget appropriation to increase rural broadband access and speed in the state. The proposal focuses on leveraging private investment, federal grants, and existing infrastructure.

Tennessee – Gov. Bill Lee called for a $200 million one-time investment combined with private investment to bring broadband to every community in the state.

Texas – In his biennial address, Gov. Greg Abbott listed increasing broadband access as one of the five emergency items up for consideration.

Utah – Gov. Spencer Cox called for a one-time investment of $50 million for expanding broadband and fiber access.

Vermont – Gov. Phil Scott’s budget proposal includes $20 million to extend broadband to rural Vermont homes by leveraging local utilities. Of these funds, $1.5 million would be dedicated to help local utility and communications districts plan for broadband buildout.

Virginia – Gov. Ralph Northam proposed $29 million in grant awards to expand high-speed internet across the state with funding provided through the Department of Housing and Community Development. The awards would target regions currently underserved by internet service providers.

West Virginia – The state legislature is currently considering a bill to support, encourage, and expedite the expansion of broadband throughout the state. In his State-of-the-State address, Gov. Jim Justice also noted the importance of bringing broadband to every area in the state.

Wisconsin – Gov. Tony Evers proposed $200 million for broadband in his State-of-the-State address. The proposal includes $40 million in funding for affordability programs for low-income households and $150 million for grants to build out broadband infrastructure.