Monday, June 13, 2011

Wausau Daily Herald Asks Some Pointed Questions About JFC WiscNet Action

Our View: Internet access makes sense; cuts don't. (Wausau Daily Herald, 6/12/2011)

Excerpt: OK, we must be missing something.

A group of state legislators wants to return $37 million in federal funding that would help provide improved high-speed Internet access in this and other regions of rural Wisconsin.

The funding provides for 550 miles of high-speed, broadband service across the state. Members of the Legislature's powerful Joint Finance Committee also voted to disband WiscNet, a nonprofit cooperative Internet provider that serves the Marathon County Public Library system, among others.

The money would help public libraries, schools, government facilities and hospitals make better use of the Internet.

That broadband access would enhance education, improve efficiency and save our local institutions money.

So ... if we get the money, people benefit. If we don't get the money, we see increased costs, and we don't tap the full advantage of technology.

Perhaps in a slash-and-burn, cut-at-all-costs (and from all sources) way this somehow makes sense. And while we oppose wasteful spending as much as the next person, we don't think all spending is bad.

We've seen no explanation for removing the provision to the state's budget bill. We can only speculate on what happened. Is this a political stand? Is the telecommunications lobby that persuasive? Do committee members just not understand how important this is
?  [Emphasis added.]

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