Modest broadband goals get more modest in Dayton budget

A few weeks ago a member of Gov. Mark Dayton’s broadband task force told me that if you shoot for the moon, you get dismissed. So in proposing what the state should do to get on track to make high-speed Internet access available to all, the task force took a modest approach.

Create some tax incentives for Internet providers to lay more fiber, it said. Make money available for libraries and schools to buy more computers so poor people get better access.

It wasn’t clear from Dayton’s budget proposal Tuesday that even those low-cost ideas will get very far.

The budget includes $500,000 over two years for broadband, the commerce department says. That will pay for a broadband development office to coordinate deployment projects, development of a database of high-speed fiber projects and a statewide “dig-once” program to coordinate transportation and other infrastructure construction projects to include fiber in the planning.

There was nothing about tax incentives or computer purchases.

The commerce department, which oversees state government’s efforts on broadband, said the budget is a starting point and that Dayton will work with the Legislature in the coming months.

So it might be interesting to hear the conversation at 10 a.m. Tuesday Jan. 29 when the broadband task force sits down with Sen. Dan Sparks and Rep. Sheldon Johnson, the two chairmen who would oversee broadband legislation.

The meeting is in Room G22 of the Minnesota Department of Transportation building at the Capitol.

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