News & Updates

Broadband Internet access has been one of the main policy discussions in Minnesota for the past few years. Governor Dayton’s Broadband Task Force has recommended the state use public dollars to jumpstart broadband infrastructure investment. For FY2016-2017, Governor Dayton and Lt. Governor Smith propose a $100 million in their supplemental budget for this issue, while the Minnesota House’s bill proposes $35 million.

Back in 2010, Minnesota set its broadband development goal: that every resident and business have access to high-speed broadband with minimum download speeds of ten to 20 megabits per second and minimum upload speeds of five to ten megabits per second by 2015 at the latest. As we recently reported, the state failed to achieve its goal, but recently updated its goal to match the FCC’s latest definition of broadband Internet with minimum download speed of 25 megabits per second and minimum upload speed of three megabits per second.

BroadbandNow, a comparison and research website that provides information on broadband in the United States, reports that about 90 percent of Minnesotans have access to broadband at 25 megabits per second or faster. However, the Task Force reports that most of those without the access live in rural and tribal areas of Minnesota.

Broadband status in Minnesota

Broadband status in Minnesota

Since its beginning, the Minnesota Border-to-Border Broadband Development Grant program has received overwhelming interest from cities, communities, and providers across the state. Minnesota has appropriated $30 million, which leveraged about $41 million in private investments in the past two years. However, many grant applications remain unfunded.

According to Governor Dayton’s proposal, the grant is expected to connect 35,000 additional homes, businesses, and institutions across Minnesota. It should also leverage at least $100 million in private and local investment, based on past grant funding.

The Minnesota House of Representatives proposes a more conservative plan to appropriate $35 million for the border-to-border broadband grant program.

Given the previous interest in the grant and the increasing growth in broadband demand, it is encouraging to see the border-to-border broadband grant is gaining more traction at the Capitol. As broadband Internet becomes more important in not just high-tech industry but education, agriculture, and health care, Minnesotans understand that this infrastructure is necessary to ensure the state’s competitive edge for its residents and businesses.

Big Debt, Big Deal

Minnesota is living under a $27 billion mountain of student loan debt.1 A student graduating in Minnesota today has an average of $31,000 in debt.2 Whether we realize it or not, it is affecting both individuals and the broader community. The challenge of student loan...

Minnesota Business Tax Rate Equals U.S. Average

Business groups—including the Minnesota Business Partnership and Minnesota Chamber of Commerce—actively cultivate the notion that business taxes in the Gopher State are high relative to the rest of the nation. However, total state and local business taxes as a share...

Ensure Respect for Minimum Wage Laws

(Note: This article is co-authored with Laura Huizar, a staff attorney at the National Employment Law Project in Washington, D.C.) A few weeks ago, the St. Paul City Council introduced a draft ordinance that would raise the city’s minimum wage to $15 an hour. That’s a...

Caring in Central Minnesota

Minnesota is getting older every day.1 The aging of our population is increasing demand for home health and personal care workers. We also continue to have population growth through both immigration and natural growth. To fill the needs of our changing population we...

Gas Tax Buys One-Third Less Today Than in 2000

The single largest source of funding for Minnesota’s transportation system comes from the state gas tax. However, the purchasing power of that tax has dropped by over one-third over the course of the century, leaving funding for state roads and bridges in a precarious...

State Aids: The Shrinking Slice of the City Revenue Pie

City property taxes have increased significantly in recent decades. Even after adjusting for inflation and population growth, the property taxes collected by Minnesota cities have increased by 48% from 1990 to 2018. However, real (i.e., inflation-adjusted) per capita...

Government Growth in Context

Shocking claims of growth in government abound. However, viewed in context of the economic, demographic, and societal changes that have occurred over the last fifty years, the growth in government is far less astounding than the sound-bite statistics indicate. For...

Impact of Legislative Decisions on School Funding

State aid to Minnesota school districts—properly adjusted for inflation—has fluctuated significantly over the last fifteen years, but the overall trend has been downward, as documented in a recent North Star report. Of course, long-term trends are not exclusively the...

Minnesota’s Shared Health

Minnesotans value a high quality of life. It is part of the Minnesota story and one of our competitive advantages. This includes having healthy people in healthy communities. Historically, policy makers have recognized the importance of health care access by investing...

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