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Madeline Heim
By Madeline Heim July 23, 2021

Evers makes progress in second budget with big plans for broadband expansion

In his proposed 2021-23 budget, Gov. Tony Evers declared 2021 the "Year of Broadband," proposing nearly $200 million to invest in high-speed internet access across the state — five times the amount included in the three budgets before he took office combined. 

While Republicans in the state Legislature didn't meet his entire request, the signed budget will dedicate $129 million over the next two years to expand the Broadband Expansion Grant Program. The state's 2019-21 budget — the first from Evers — included just $48 million for broadband expansion.

The state funds come in addition to $100 million in federal coronavirus stimulus money Evers has said he'll put toward expanding broadband access. 

About 430,000 rural Wisconsinites live without access to broadband, according to a state estimate, or a quarter of the state's rural population. 

It will remain to be seen whether this budget's investment will close that gap and allow Evers to make good on his promise to bring high-speed Internet to all Wisconsinites — but he continues to move the needle toward it. 

We keep this promise In the Works


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Office of Gov. Tony Evers

Eric Litke
By Eric Litke January 28, 2020

Evers making progress on broadband expansion

Gov. Tony Evers promised on the 2018 campaign trail to get high-speed Internet access for everyone in Wisconsin.

One year into his term, he has taken steps toward fulfilling this sweeping pledge, though -- like many of his initiatives -- he found tough sledding in the Republican-controlled Legislature.

Evers' 2019-21 budget plan sought $74 million across the two years to extend the Broadband Expansion Grant Program. The Legislature reduced that to $44 million, and also removed the staff position Evers sought to add, according to the Legislative Fiscal Bureau. The final budget settled in at $48 million, according to Evers' veto message.

But that still represents a dramatic increase over prior years.

The program, designed to expand high-speed internet in underserved areas of the state, totaled $20 million in grants from 2014 to 2019.

On the flip side, the Legislature got rid of a more explicit step toward Evers' promise. The governor's budget established a goal for all businesses and homes in the state to have service of at least 25 megabits per second download by 2025. The Legislature deleted that provision.

Evers has a ways to go to fulfill this promise, but he also has three years left in his term.

For now, we rate this promise In the Works.

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