Northwoods residents have been calling for faster internet service in underserved areas. Money for more broadband service has been restored to the state budget after a group of rural legislators objected to it being cut.
34 District Representative Rob Swearingen says Governor Walker had said money for expanded service would be in the budget currently under construction. The budget-writing Joint Finance Committee pulled the $4.3 million from the budget. Swearingen says when they found out they acted to get it restored...
"....money set aside, $4.3 million was cut out and all that was remaining was $500,000. I got together with some other rural legislators and we sent a letter to Joint Finance(Committee) to have that money restored. Obviously broadband is very important to us here in the Northwoods..."
That $ 4.3 million dollars is for the entire state. He says in subsequent years, the funding would be at about $500,000 per year. Swearingen says if the money had been cut, it would have doomed some library programs..
"....with broadband being cut, there was a possiblity that some of the programs very important to the libraries that might have been an unintended consequence as well(from the cuts)..."
One of the programs restored at the libraries was Badgerlink which provides access to online information resources in cooperation with the state's public, school, academic, and special libraries and Internet Service Providers.
The Joint Finance Committee voted to put the money back into the budget, taking it from the Department of Administration.