Republican committee members approved $125 million in borrowing for broadband expansion, along with $4 million over the biennium for broadband expansion grants.
Based on a standard 2.5% interest rate for a 20-year bond, the Republican proposal, the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau estimates the bonding will cost an additional $35 million in interest.
Evers proposed spending about $200 million over the biennium on broadband expansion efforts.
The state Public Service Commission first began awarding broadband expansion grants about eight years ago and has awarded a total of $78 million so far to 279 projects.
Three reasons it’s dumb:
- Why borrow the money and pay interest when there is available cash?
- Programs like this are built for corruption and graft. Let’s see… government handing out massive grants to select companies to build a commercially unviable infrastructure? Who is deciding the winners and losers in that discussion?
- While an argument can be made that it is in the public interest for the government to fund broadband expansion, technology is once again outpacing public policy. Ubiquitous broadband options like Starlink are getting close to viable and will likely be widely available before this infrastructure is built. Instead of giving a big corporation a grant for tens of millions of dollars to run fiber to a farmer in Shanagolden that will be available in four years, we could spend nothing and that same farmer might have gig service in a year anyway. I expect that we are about to lay a lot of fiber that will remain underutilized forever.