Evers budget proposal invests $750M for Broadband Expansion Grant program
Gov. Evers will travel across the state this week highlighting his 2023–25 biennial budget proposal to provide an investment of $750 million for the Broadband Expansion Grant program, expanding high-speed internet access across the state, according to a press release.
The Broadband Expansion Grant program works to provide or improve broadband communications services in underserved areas of Wisconsin, with a requirement that the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin (PSC) spends at least $75 million annually on grants.
The Wisconsin Broadband Office (WBO) at the PSC estimates that in 2022 there were 650,000 Wisconsinites without access to the infrastructure needed to bring 25 megabits per second (Mbps) download and 3 Mbps upload broadband into their home or business. The WBO also estimates that there are also 650,000 Wisconsinites who cannot afford broadband.
From fiscal year 2019 through fiscal year 2022, Broadband Expansion Grants have provided more than $184 million to more than 235 projects to get homes and businesses connected across the state.
The governor’s budget proposal also included several provisions to update the Broadband Expansion Grant program to modernize the program criteria and create new consumer protections for broadband customers. These provisions were removed by the Joint Committee on Finance (JFC) in a single motion earlier this month, along with 540 other provisions.