Stealth Budget Amendment Costs Rural Wisconsin

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Jun 7, 2011 No Comments ›› admin

For Immediate Release   June 7, 2011

MADISON – Senator Kathleen Vinehout announced action by the Joint Finance Committee late Friday night could jeopardize $30 million in grants awarded to expand high speed internet services, including more than $11.5 million in the Chippewa Valley.

“Budget writers slipped in an amendment restricting the state’s ability to accept or award funds or in anyway assist in the planning of the expansion of high speed internet to rural Wisconsin,” said Senator Vinehout.

Click here to read the motion by Sen Harsdorf

“Local businesses, UW Extension and local nonprofit hospitals have teamed up to bring high speed internet to rural areas. But the midnight madness of Madison actually keeps our local partners from gaining the needed dollars already awarded them,” continued Vinehout

The project at risk is known as Building Community Capacity through Broadband. Vinehout and others advocated for the awarding of funds to the local partnership. Last summer five pilot areas received grants including the Chippewa Valley. Under the budget provision the state would be stopped from sending out the award money.

“This action defies reason,” commented Vinehout. “Until you realize legislators who wrote this amendment are intent on eliminating these cooperative arrangements.”

This bill makes government’s agreement with WiscNet, a non profit organization providing public internet, impossible. For twenty years school districts, local government, universities, libraries and non profit hospitals have relied on this arrangement for high quality, low cost high speed internet access.

“Local officials will see costs triple if this bill becomes law,” Vinehout announced. “Local officials need opportunities to expand cooperative arrangements not eliminate them. Residents in rural areas need the same access to high speed internet as our city cousins.”

Senator Vinehout encouraged local citizens to contact legislative leaders and local representatives to advocate for the repeal of the budget amendment.

“Time is of the essence,” said Vinehout. “Voting on final passage of the state budget will likely begin next week.”

Contact Sen. Vinehout   (608) 266-8546

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Voters for Vinehout

P.O. Box 1274
Eau Claire, WI 54702