Two States Make Moves on Broadband Funding

Two states recently made moves on broadband funding. Funding bills were passed by legislatures and signed into law by governors in Alabama and Idaho.

$260M in Alabama

Alabama Governor Kay Ivey signed legislation to make $260 million in funding from the federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) available for broadband deployments. The funding represents a portion of $1.06 billion that was released to the state in its final ARPA allotment.

The ARPA made funding available to every state. The state could use the money for a variety of purposes, including broadband. The Alabama legislature convened a special session to confirm how the state would use the new allotment.

In a prepared statement, Ivey said “Alabama can now look to a future of greater promise thanks to the steps we have taken this week to invest these funds wisely.”

According to a report from local media outlet Alabama devoted $277 million in ARPA funding allotted to the state last year to broadband. When combined with the new funding, that’s a total of $537 million in ARPA funding for broadband in the state.

$125M in Idaho

Idaho Governor Brad Little signed a bill into law that will add $125 million to the funding available for broadband deployments in the state. An additional $100 million is nearing legislative approval, according to a press release from the governor.

The Idaho Broadband Advisory Board will oversee the distribution of funds.

“In a data-driven society, connectivity is imperative for a strong economy,” said Little in a prepared statement. “Improved broadband infrastructure means both urban and rural Idaho will be connected and well-positioned to attract business and enhance our citizens’ quality of life. I appreciate my legislative partners for prioritizing these new ‘Idaho First’ investments in broadband expansion. Together we are ensuring a kid in Pierce can learn online with a kid from Pocatello and a senior citizen in Challis can connect to her doctor in Chubbuck. This is . . . all about connecting Idaho and improving lives.”

According to the press release, Idaho previously directed $50 million in funding that it received through the CARES Act and $35 million from the state’s general fund toward broadband.

More than $600 million worth of shovel-ready projects are awaiting funding in Idaho, the release notes.

Alabama could be on tap to receive over a billion dollars more in broadband funding and Idaho could be on tap to receive hundreds of millions more through the Broadband Equity Access and Deployment (BEAD) program.

Updated with information about the portion of Alabama’s initial ARPA allotment that went towards broadband.

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