Assemblyman Chris Tague (R,C,I,Ref-Schoharie) has joined his colleagues in the Assembly Minority Conference in writing a letter to President Trump and Sen. Schumer calling for the federal government to allocate a sizeable portion of CARES Act broadband expansion funding to rural regions of New York due to the states large number of infections compared to other states in the nation. This funding is needed to expand high-speed broadband to facilitate public safety, distance learning and telehealth efforts necessitated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Broadband expansion in rural areas of our state has always been a priority of mine, but the urgency for this expansion has truly come to a peak as NY-Pause has kept people indoors said Tague. Ensuring access to reliable internet with speeds sufficient for video streaming is critical to guaranteeing educational opportunities for students in these areas, as well as giving access to telehealth services for those who need them during this unprecedented public health crisis. Public safety is another crucial component of this issue, as many living in rural New York have no way of reaching out to others during an emergency. New York has been waiting for years to receive the greater portion of the $170 million award it received from the FCC through the Connect America Fund, and in addition to CARES Act funding, this money is needed now more than ever to assure our constituents are connected to all of the resources they need to make it through these trying times.
The letter calls for the following federal allocations of funding to be granted to New York:
$25 million for the Distance Learning, Telemedicine, and Broadband Program to respond to coronavirus for telemedicine and distance learning services in rural areas;
$100 million for additional grants under the Rural Utilities Service Broadband Deployment Pilot Program;
$200 million for the FCC Connected Care Pilot Program, to address COVID-19 by using telehealth to connect with patients;
$45 million to expand FEMA information technology and communications capabilities; and
$9 million for CISA supply chain for impacted critical infrastructure coordination.
A copy of the letter written to the president and Sen. Schumer can be found here.