Broadband funding source untouched
I took it upon myself to do a little research relating to telecommunications taxation in Wisconsin. Calls to the DOR led me to numerous call transfers, emails and playing “telephone tag” for information. When it comes to broadband in the rural areas of this state, we, living in the rural areas, are second-class citizens.
Did you know that telecom/telephone taxes at the state level go into the general fund? Those of you not familiar with this accounting term, it’s called General Purpose Revenue. This means that the state can use this funding for whatever is needed and it is not dedicated to any one purpose. The amount for fiscal year 2016 for the telephone companies/ISPs was $76.5 million.
Grants from the State Broadband Office through the Public Service Commission are not enough to meet the overwhelming need of robust broadband in Wisconsin’s rural areas. The solution seems simple enough. The rural areas of this state need to contact their elected officials they sent to Madison and tell them to create a bill changing this situation. These general fund dollars need to go to a segregated fund dedicated to the state’s broadband problem. Some of our current elected officials we sent to Madison are up for re-election in 2018, and some of them stated that broadband was a key part of their platform when they ran for office in 2016. Gov. Scott Walker has been traveling the state and stating broadband in the rural areas is an issue. Since this is a nonpartisan issue, this new legislation should be a breeze and fly through the bill process to the governor for him to sign.