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Broadband map not in the budget despite promises from Cuomo staff

Mar 03, 2021 1:30 pm

Larry Rulison is reporting for the Times Union after Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo's staff promised that money for a broadband map would be included in the state budget, but it's not. Cuomo blocked a bipartisan proposal to create accurate maps showing where high-speed internet service is available, and where it is lacking and has now failed to include the plan in his executive budget. State officials told news outlets last month the governor decided to kill the Comprehensive Broadband Connectivity Act through a so-called pocket veto because it carried a $3 million price tag and therefore should only be considered as part of a broader state budget deal. "We agree with it in concept and will be including a proposal in the budget," senior adviser to the governor Richard Azzopardi said at the time. Neither Cuomo nor his staff responded to requests for comment this week. There is still time for the proposal to be included in budget negotiations between the governor and the Legislature. However, the current absence of the proposal from the executive budget worries consumer groups like the AARP, which believes an authoritative map of broadband availability in the state would help target areas where the service is lacking. The governor has long been a champion of expanded high-speed internet access in the state and his $500 million broadband subsidy program is a model nationwide. Cuomo's current budget proposal includes a provision supported by AARP and other consumer groups that would make high-speed internet available to low-income households for just $15 a month. Read the full story in the Times Union.