The Free Press, Mankato, MN

State, national news

May 15, 2014

$20M set aside for broadband

ST. PAUL (AP) — Supporters of expanded broadband in rural Minnesota are claiming a victory as the Legislature appears ready to set aside $20 million for their cause.

A supplemental budget bill that includes the money could be voted on as early as Friday. The money is far short of the $100 million requested, but boosters say they'll take it as a down payment on the sustained investment that's needed.

Sen. Matt Schmit, a Red Wing DFLer, says an estimated 500,000 Minnesotans don't have access to high-speed Internet. He calls it essential to economic development, telemedicine, education and more.

Dan Dorman, who lobbied for the bill on behalf of the Greater Minnesota Partnership, says improved broadband came up as the top issue on a statewide listening tour in the past few months.

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