Expanding broadband today would be like the Democratic President Franklin D. Roosevelt's electrification of the U.S. back in 1935-36:
President Roosevelt issues an executive order to create the Rural Electrification Administration (REA), which forms cooperatives that bring electricity to millions of rural Americans. Within 6 years the REA aided the formation of 800 rural electric cooperatives.
Now, note the differences between the parties, and who's really serious about job creation.
About 25% of rural residents, or about 430,000 Wisconsinites, lack high-speed broadband.
Republican Sen. Howard Marklein, who chaired the Legislature’s study committee on rural broadband in 2016, said he has reservations about the governor’s proposal (in his 2019 Budget) to expand high-speed internet. "I’m a little concerned that we might be taking money away from some other high priorities," Marklein said.
Gov. Evers proposed in his budget investing $200 million in broadband access, with $150 million going to the expansion grant and the remaining $50 million helping people who can’t afford the high cost of internet. At Friday’s event, the governor said he will use some of the COVID-19 relief funds on broadband expansion.
Evers plan was soundly rejected:
Republican Assembly Leader Robin Vos called it "nothing more than a liberal Democrat from Madison's wish list."
But after seeing how rural communities loved the Governors plans, Vos went into action. Yes, even after Wisconsin's Congressional Republicans all voted against it:
Evers has already vetoed a similar measure Republicans sent to his desk in February. With the influx of new stimulus dollars, Republicans brought back the proposal. Vos said the GOP “will have no choice but to go to court.”Suddenly, Big Spending Republicans back Broadband Expansion? After Republicans rejected Gov. Evers attempts to bring back "our own federal tax dollars" to expand Medicaid, they now want to spend "our own returning federal tax dollars" their party voted against:
“The people most impacted by the pandemic, the hardworking Wisconsin taxpayers, should see additional state aid coming out of the pandemic funds,” Republican Rep. Mark Born said. “This is their money...!”Democrat Biden says YES to Even Bigger Broadband Expansion: This is a major business and job creation plan. But again, not a Republican thing:
"Broadband internet is the new electricity," the White House said. "It is necessary for Americans to do their jobs, to participate equally in school learning, health care, and to stay connected."
The White House fact sheet detailing aspects of the plan highlights the fact that more than 30 million Americans live in areas without any access to broadband. And in urban and suburban markets where broadband is available, it's often too expensive. This reality hits minority families harder than white families, creating digital inequities. The coronavirus pandemic, which led to shutdowns across the country, made the issues even more apparent, especially for students who struggled to connect to the internet for distance learning.