Expanding Ohio’s Broadband Infrastructure is a Step in Addressing Whole Child Wellbeing
February 2, 2021
By Tracy Nájera, MPA, PhD, Executive Director
This morning, I traveled to the Ohio Statehouse to give in-person testimony in support of S.B. 8 sponsored by Sen. McColley to expand residential broadband across Ohio. This piece of legislation, though limited, represents one of many steps that are needed to make sure that children and their families have the tools they need for education access and equity, health services, remote work opportunities, workforce training access, and so many other opportunities that are currently unavailable for over 1 million Ohioans.
Yesterday, Governor DeWine introduced his administration’s proposed executive budget for the biennium. One key aspects shared in his overview was an unprecedented investment in Ohio’s Broadband Infrastructure. This proposed $250 million investment included in his proposed budget means that thousands of Ohioans – children and adults – will no longer be left behind and we can come closer to the bridging the digital divide that currently exist.
In addition to building our broadband infrastructure, there is also a need to address affordability issues and access to internet-ready devices. This past year, the Governor used $50 million in CARES Act funding to provide school districts and other education organizations with funding for devices and hotspots for students lacking access. Early on in this pandemic and through several regionally-based initiatives, non-profit organizations and internet providers are stepping in to take on the affordability issues for low-income Ohioans. They are providing service subsidies and other programs to make sure that this “essential utility” is available and affordable.