Of all the unsuccessful amendments that Senate Democrats tried to tack onto the budget this week, Sen. Kerry Donovan’s (D-Vail) attempt to earmark $5 million to pay for rural broad development struck us as exceptionally bad.
Yes, there are still parts of the state where people don’t have the same level of access to high speed Internet as those of us living in city centers. But taxpayers shouldn’t have to subsidize those amenities for rural areas, and government certainly isn’t qualified at providing that service.
Sen. Cory Gardner proved this point a few years ago when he highlighted to unbelievable corruption of the stimulus-funded EAGLE-Net broadband project, which spent $100.6 million of taxpayer funds providing broadband for underserved institutions like the Cherry Creek School District and the Denver Public Library. Because having their choice of Comcast, Century Link, or DISH just wasn’t enough.
EAGLE-Net ended up being investigated for over promising and under delivering. It wasn’t until last year (and a lot of political pressure later) that they began to make inroads into truly underserved areas like Silverton, Colo.
It is also worth mentioning that, last year, the Governor signed into law a tax break to incentivize private companies to provide greater broadband access in areas of the state that now lack service. Further proving that the issue of rural broadband service can be addressed without taxpayers having to foot the bill.
We get why Donovan ran her amendment. She’s pandering, and it’s an easy talking point. But that doesn’t make it any less of a dumb and unnecessary idea.