Herbig presents high-speed internet bond proposal

Posted: February 21, 2019 | Appropriations and Financial Affairs, Senator Herbig

AUGUSTA— On Tuesday, Sen. Erin Herbig, D-Waldo, introduced a bond proposal to bring reliable, high-speed internet access to rural Maine at a public hearing before the Legislature’s Appropriation and Financial Affair Committee.

If approved by the Legislature and the voters, LD 354, “An Act to Authorize a General Fund Bond Issue to Encourage the Growth and Construction of Broadband Infrastructure in Maine,” would invest $20 million in critical internet infrastructure in rural, underserved areas of the state.

“Access to high-speed internet in today’s economy is a utility, just as important as electricity or a road to access markets and participate in the economy,” Sen. Herbig. “This bond will create an important foundation for the expansion high-speed internet access across Maine, empowering rural communities to build independent, long-lasting infrastructure that will bring back some of the Maine families we’ve lost.”

In New England, Maine ranks last in the region in terms of access to high-speed internet according to latest census data. The bond would disburse funds to the ConnectME Authority to increase access to reliable high-speed internet in rural, underserved areas.

“Lack of access to reliable high-speed internet creates an incredible barrier to education, business growth, and economic activity in Waldo County and all rural, underserved parts of Maine,” said Sen. Herbig. “With this bond proposal, we can change that. Mainers have what it takes to compete in this changing economy, they just need the infrastructure to do it.”

Representatives from Maine’s Public University System, the Telecommunications Association of Maine and several Maine-based organizations and businesses testified in support of this bond proposal.

LD 354 will undergo additional work sessions and votes in Legislature’s Appropriation and Financial Affairs Committee.