Governor Gretchen Whitmer issued an executive directive calling on state agencies to work with the legislature to spend tens of millions of dollars Michigan is expected to receive for broadband internet under the new federal infrastructure law .
According to the directive released today, state agencies “will play a critical role in mobilizing these dollars and ensuring that they are spent responsibly, efficiently and in accordance with the law.” Previous news reports show Michigan is set to earn $ 100 million to improve high-speed internet access as part of the more than $ 10 billion the state will receive under the bipartisan infrastructure law signed by President Biden earlier this month.
“High-speed Internet access has become a necessity for full participation in the economy and in society. But for many Michigan residents, the physical infrastructure that carries high-speed Internet is simply not reaching their communities, ”Whitmer wrote in the directive. “For others, connectivity is not possible due to the cost of the service or the devices required to connect. This lack of connectivity can make it difficult for a person to choose the life they want – to learn online, use telemedicine, work remotely, advertise their business, and even connect with family elsewhere.
The move forces state departments and “autonomous agencies” to follow nine priorities, including working with the legislature to leverage federal funding and “work quickly to ensure that high-speed internet projects in this state are business-driven. of Michigan that create jobs for Michigan workers. . “
Other guidelines include prioritizing spending that might coincide with other infrastructure projects, seeking discretionary federal grants that could further strengthen infrastructure funding, and creating a “robust and granular map” of areas that have the most. no need for high speed internet.
The directive also seeks to identify and remove obstacles to “digital equity”.
“Investments in high speed internet create economic prosperity and ensure that families and small businesses can rely on their connections to work, learn and access essential information and services,” Whitmer said in a statement. “Funding for the new infrastructure bill will build on the work we have already done in this space and help us usher in a new era of prosperity for our state. I look forward to working with the legislature to invest these dollars and get the job done. ”
During his tenure, Whitmer set a goal of bringing high-speed Internet to 95% of Michigan homes over the next five years. To date, the state’s Connecting Michigan Communities Grant Program has expanded its services to 18,900 homes and businesses.
Federal infrastructure funding is in addition to the more than $ 400 million Michigan has received in various grants and pandemic relief to expand high-speed internet access statewide.