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Rural areas need broadband

Living in a rural area of Wisconsin, I consider myself a second-class citizen when it comes to broadband service. The state funding dollars to solve the rural broadband problem are meager at best. I headed to the Department of Revenue website to see how the telecommunications providers of this state are taxed. Below is a statement directly from the DOR’s website:

“Telephone companies are assessed as ad valorem property tax. Tax revenue the Wisconsin Department of Revenue (DOR) collects from telephone companies goes to the state's general fund.”

After reading this, I’m sure my face turned red and my blood pressure rose considerably. This money is going into the general fund to be used wherever it is needed and not dedicated to broadband service. I started making phone calls and sending emails to see what is needed to make this a dedicated fund to broadband. All that is needed is a bill to address this issue. Any elected officials we send to Madison can create a bill to remedy this current situation.

What kind of money are we talking about? In fiscal year 2016 it was $76.5 million, and in fiscal year 2017 it was $70 million. It’s an election year, and I will be attending listening sessions by candidates. Oh, and I’ll be sitting in the first row of chairs.

Terry Nichols

Colfax, Wis.

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