May 24, 2019

Governor, Legislative Leaders Agree to $40 Million for Broadband

(St. Paul, MN)  Special Session SF1, the Agriculture, Housing and Broadband Budget bill passed the Senate 66-0 and 114-14 during the Special Session called for Friday, May 24th. The bill now goes to Governor Walz for his signature.

“The Minnesota Rural Broadband Coalition applauds the Governor and legislative leaders for their $40 million investment over the next two years in the Border-to-Border Broadband Infrastructure Grant Program,” said Nancy Hoffman, Chair of the Minnesota Rural Broadband Coalition. “This is certainly a step forward and a win for broadband access. Most importantly, the grant program will receive multi-year funding for the first time, ending the feast-famine cycle of one-time appropriations that have held the program back.”

The $40 million for the grant program will help connect thousands of Minnesotans who previously did not have adequate broadband service. From farmers to main street businesses, health care providers in rural communities, and children doing their homework—everyone’s lives improve when they have access to world class affordable broadband.

“This was a top priority for the House, Senate and Governor Walz and we are grateful for their commitment,” Hoffman added. “Our coalition members are excited and ready to put projects on the ground.”

Who We Are

The Minnesota Rural Broadband Coalition is a membership group of local units of government, elected officials, economic development agencies, educational institutions, healthcare organizations, telecommunications organizations, non-profits and individuals who advocate at the State Capitol for better broadband in rural Minnesota.

Access to high speed broadband is important for a sustainable rural economy in Minnesota. All sectors and corners of Minnesota need robust broadband connections:  education, agriculture, main street businesses, manufacturing and health care.  Members of the Minnesota Rural Broadband Coalition are experienced in the challenges and opportunities to bring broadband to all sectors and corners of Minnesota.

Minnesota’s Governor’s Task Force on Broadband consistently recommends funding the Border-to-Border Broadband Development Grant Program. The 2017 Report recommends $71.48 million per biennuim, in on-going funding over the next four years. This will provide broadband internet speeds of 25 Mbps/3Mbps to the 252,000 households that currently lack such service – and be poised to help Minnesota achieve its statutory broadband speed goal of connecting all Minnesotans with broadband internet speeds of 100 Mbps/20Mbps by 2026.

History of the Coalition

The Minnesota broadband vision created in the fall of 2015 at a “Border to Border Broadband: Better Together” conference hosted by Blandin Foundation and the MN Office of Broadband Development, prompted the formation of the Minnesota Rural Broadband Coalition.  Our vision is that everyone in Minnesota will be able to use convenient, affordable world-class broadband networks that enable us to survive and thrive in our communities and across the globe.

2018 Legislative Session Report