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State budget will help expand broadband ADVERTISEMENT

State budget will help expand broadband

NEW YORK STATE--The newly enacted state budget includes provisions that have eliminated the department of transportation right-of-way fee for broadband projects. Prior to the news, the fee or "broadband tax" had been eliminated, State Senator Tom O'Mara had argued it was costing New York billions of dollars in infrastructure funding.
"The single most important action that the state can immediately take is to repeal the 'fiber tax.' Gov. (Kathy) Hochul should give this repeal the urgency it demands to ensure that broadband development across rural, upstate New York receives an equal and fair commitment," said O'Mara in a statement.
The move by the governor to support the repeal was heralded by the New York State Association of Counties as a needed move to improve the quality of life for millions of upstate New Yorkers.
"The past two years of remote work, school, and meetings revealed the many pockets of the state that still don't have quality internet access. We thank state leaders for their renewed focus and commitment to support counties working on broadband projects designed to better connect their communities to the internet," said NYSAC President and Tioga County Legislative Chair Marte Sauerbrey.
Along with repealing the 'broadband tax' the new state budget also includes additional broadband specific legislation. The 'Working to Implement Reliable and Equitable Deployment of Broadband Act' or WIRED establishes a new division of broadband access that will be dedicated to deploying a series of ConnectALL grant programs throughout the state.
As a result, the total investment for broadband initiatives is $1.445 billion, including $300 million for the ConnectALL grant program with an additional $1.145 billion coming in federal funds.
Broadband expansion is a priority in Yates County, with officials spending significant time and energy to provide broadband access to residents who still lack access to high speed internet.
"Access to high-speed internet has become a fundamental need for our families, businesses, farms, local economies, first responders, schools, and the overall success and strength of rural, local communities," added O'Mara. "We have worked to ensure that rural, upstate New York not be left behind in this mission to bring effective broadband to all New Yorkers, but new initiatives and investments are needed."

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