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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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