CSAC Bulletin Article

Broadband Action Critically Needed Now

June 3, 2021

Fervent advocacy continues on one of CSAC’s top priorities–broadband–in advance of the June 15 state budget deadline. County Supervisors are urged to call their Assembly Members and Senators and to submit letters of support requesting that Governor Gavin Newsom’s $7 billion broadband package be included in the June 15 budget. CSAC has prepared the following Broadband Myths and Facts sheet that may be helpful in conversations, as well.

This activity comes in response to the release of the Legislature’s joint budget plan this week. While the joint plan includes $7 billion for broadband, it is diluted in several important ways:

  • Spreads funding out for seven years, when major investments are needed now;
  • Gives no details about where money will be allocated to (e.g. infrastructure vs. subsidies);
  • Uses fewer federal American Rescue Plan Act dollars and more state General Fund;
  • Doesn’t indicate whether reforms would put counties, other public agencies, and nonprofits on a level playing field with incumbent providers; and
  • Fails to indicate whether the plan would expand the telephone Lifeline program to broadband service.

Worst of all, all indications point to the Legislature delaying action on broadband investment past the June 15 passage of the budget. Action is needed now because the longer negotiations drag on, the more likely it is that opponents will be able to defer or dilute the proposal to maintain local monopolies in about half the state. What’s more, if the package is passed in June, much of the planning, staffing up, and drafting of guidelines can be completed before the end of the Legislative session this fall, allowing the real work of construction and granting funds to start sooner.

The Governor’s trailer bill is a complete, detailed plan that connects unconnected communities in rural areas and tribal lands, provides immediate affordability relief for low-income households, connects un- and under-connected islands in urban areas, and provides a long-term solution to both universal service and affordability statewide.

The Legislature will be making these decisions in the next week to 10 days. Please call your legislators today!

CSAC’s Communication Team is also developing a series of County-specific tweets with CPUC data on broadband monopolies and access at modern speeds. If your county would like graphics for social media or tailored messaging to assist in local advocacy, please contact Communications Manager Sara Floor.

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