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DFL Needs To Be The Party That Delivers Broadband To Rural MN

Category: GOP House Republicans
Posted: 12/21/16 23:21, Edited: 12/22/16 10:15

by Dave Mindeman

We hear a lot about Democrats needing to reach out to rural Minnesota. The Republicans have co-opted the voters outside of the metro. And yes, the rural areas did turn many legislative seats into GOP hands.

But why they did that is not fully explained.

Democrats have been championing a rural issue that is extremely important to Greater Minnesota....

Broadband.

To a lot of people, broadband is the key to rural business development. And the Republican Party of Minnesota has never supported it to the extent that is really needed. Democrats have....

In April of the last legislative session, this is where the two party's stood:

Gov. Mark Dayton asked lawmakers for $100 million to expand broadband access in rural Minnesota. The Senate is pledging $85 million and the House of Representatives passed a bill Wednesday for $40 million over two years.

The Senate's $85 million would go to the border-to-border fund to partner with internet companies to extend high-speed internet lines to rural areas.


It is important to note that in February (2 months prior), a task force presented a report on rural broadband with the following recommendation:

The report said that, while the infusion into the state's broadband grant program would help Minnesota achieve its goal, it would cost $900 million to $3.2 billion to fully expand high-speed Internet statewide.

That is a lot of money, but if rural Minnesota is to meet the needs of necessary development, broadband MUST be in place. Lt. Governor Tina Smith traveled the state to get rural opinions on the matter and she came to the same conclusion....

"Broadband Internet isn't just nice," Smith said in a statement. "We need the bandwidth for Minnesota's regional centers and rural economies to support innovation and entrepreneurship. If we don't do this, 244,000 Minnesotans and hundreds of communities will lack the basic infrastructure to connect to the 21st-century economy, and that's not fair."

The Broadband issue has come up time and time again at the legislature and every time the Democrats place a significant funding source into their budget - while the House GOP gives lip service with an insulting allotment that would get nothing started.

Somehow, this fact seems to have escaped the voters in rural Minnesota. They listen to the GOP rhetoric and think that "words" will get the job done. They get told by the Republicans that the Democratic Party is a "Metro Only" party, and that Democrats will continue to neglect them.

And yet, the House GOP gives rural Minnesota no broadband, no transportation bill, and has sliced LGA to the point that rural city budgets are needing to raise property taxes.

Democrats need to sound off on this. They need to fight the House GOP on their false promises.

Democrats need to become the party of delivering broadband.

It can be as simple as that.
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