(The Center Square) – Wisconsin’s governor wants to use some of the state’s stimulus money to bring faster internet to people across the state.
Gov. Tony Evers on Tuesday announced plans to spend $100 million in American Rescue Plan dollars on broadband internet grants.
“We’re taking a major step toward connecting everyone in our state,” the governor said.
Gov. Evers has hinted about spending some of Wisconsin’s $2.5 billion in stimulus money on internet projects. Tuesday’s announcement made it official.
The governor’s office says they want to focus on projects that will connect “unserved or underserved households and businesses,” to achieve the "last mile connection," and that are not already covered by an existing to-be built project.
Sen. Howard Marklein, R-Spring Green, last week suggested narrowing Wisconsin’s existing broadband grant program to focus on projects where state help is truly needed.
“We must evolve as we continue to meet our goals and reach new areas of the state,” Marklein said.
Marklein wants to send money to communities that have at least 50% of the costs already set aside, and said he wants to direct state money only to “unserved” communities, as opposed to “underserved” communities.
Marklein says that will ”ensure Wisconsin taxpayer investments make a difference.”
Gov. Evers is free to ignore Marklein’s suggestions. He has sole authority to spend Wisconsin’s stimulus money.
The governor says the application period for the $100 million in broadband grants opens June 1st.