Broadband: A necessity for economic growth

February 8, 2016

Greg Davids took a beating at the Broadband hearing held last December in Spring Valley.   He obviously has no understanding of the issue but let's see how he reacts to this new proposal.  Last year this same task force recommended $100 million but the Republican leadership responded with an initially proposal of $0. 

The Governor’s Task Force on Broadband has released a report showing Minnesota communities need a $200 million investment in the state’s competitive broadband grant program over the next year. That funding, they said, is essential to keep making progress toward connecting un- and underserved communities statewide with high-speed broadband infrastructure necessary for families and businesses in a 21st Century economy.

This year, with the state facing a $1.2 billion budget surplus, Gov. Dayton is proposing a $100 million investment in rural broadband to help expand economic opportunity across Minnesota – particularly in Greater Minnesota – by helping businesses, entrepreneurs, and innovators connect with global consumers, markets, and ideas.

But Kurt Daudt’s House Republicans have shown themselves again and again to be a day late and a dollar short on rural broadband. Last session, they proposed $0 for broadband infrastructure in Greater Minnesota; but ultimately relented to the Governor’s demands and passed $10.5 million for the program. This year, despite the clear case for significant investment, House Republicans are proposing just $35 million this year – essentially the same investment Gov. Dayton would have made last session; a proposal the Republicans strongly opposed.

The Daudt/Garofalo broadband plan: Propose $0 for broadband, then take credit for funding, complete by making inaccurate and misleading claims to the public.
  • Last year, Speaker Daudt’s House Republicans, led by Representative Pat Garofalo, rolled out their ambitious 2015 broadband plan for Greater Minnesota by proposing $0 for rural broadband. Instead of making investments that would expand economic opportunity for Minnesota families and businesses, Speaker Daudt and Republicans chose to prioritize tax giveaways to billionaires, big businesses, and the owners of Minneapolis skyscrapers.
  • Lt. Gov. Tina Smith, the Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities, and communities across the state were quick to call out Republicans for abandoning their promise to make last year the “Greater Minnesota session.”

House Republicans leave Minnesotans behind
For nearly 3 months, Gov. Dayton and DFL Legislators have urged House Speaker Kurt Daudt and Republicans to agree to a Special Session of the Legislature. Speaker Daudt delayed, and delayed, and delayed – refusing to take action to provide unemployment benefits for struggling Iron Range families, increase opportunity for communities of color, or begin to implement REAL ID solution so that Minnesotans can board commercial airplanes.

At last week’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs 2016 Legislative Preview, Speaker Daudt said that “a principle that really guides me is . . . let’s do right by Minnesotans.” Then Speaker Daudt and Republicans closed the door on a Special Session by turning their backs on unemployed Minnesotans.

In the most blatant example yet, Speaker Daudt and Republicans have shown where their real priorities are – demanding a 10-to-1 corporate tax giveaway worth $272 million in exchange for a 26-week unemployment benefits extension totaling $29 million. The Republican message couldn’t be clearer: no relief for Minnesotans struggling to pay their mortgages, make their car payments, or feed their families; unless businesses get a handout.

It’s time for House Republicans to either “do right by” struggling Minnesotans, or admit they have no interest in acting. After three months of waiting, Speaker Daudt has made clear his priorities are with corporate special interests, not Minnesota families.