Democratic Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers’ Task Force on Broadband Access issued its second annual report this month, highlighting progress made since the task force’s establishment in 2020. Evers created the task force in the summer of 2020 by executive order.
Since taking office in January of 2019, the Evers Administration has invested nearly $300 million to expand broadband access – a key tool in strengthening rural communities and empowering local businesses to grow in smaller communities.
“High-speed internet is absolutely critical to helping folks learn, work, and stay connected to important services, and since 2019, we’ve made tremendous progress in getting Wisconsinites connected by funding projects that will provide new or improved broadband to over 387,000 homes and businesses all across our state,” said Evers in a release highlighting the work of the task force.
In addition to highlighting the progress already made the task force issued a new set of recommendations in its’ 2022 Annual Report, among them:
- Maintaining the state’s Broadband Expansion Grant Program which leverages federal funds and projects not eligible for federal funding alike.
- Creation of technical assistance programs to support local communities as they develop their broadband plans and seek opportunities for funding.
- Working more closely with Tribal governments to support their efforts to expand access to broadband.
The 2022 report also notes that the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law signed by Democratic President Joe Biden in 2021 recognized broadband as critical infrastructure akin to roads, bridges, and railways – in addition to dedicating $65 billion to broadband expansion nationally.
Wisconsin’s Republican Senator Ron Johnson voted against the Infrastructure bill and the broadband funding it provided. Democratic Senator Tammy Baldwin voted for the measure.