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GUEST COLUMN: Republicans aren’t serious about broadband

Livingston County residents deserve first-class broadband service. That’s not what they would have gotten under a Republican bill vetoed by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.

The bill would have given tax breaks to internet companies that provided internet service as slow as 25 mpbs, a fraction of the 100 mpbs people are accustomed to and not nearly enough to support the demands of remote schooling, working from home, tele-medicine, shopping on line, and the many other tasks that the pandemic has required people to rely on the internet for.

In return for delivering too-slow service, the internet companies would have been given millions of dollars in tax breaks that would have come right out of the coffers of school districts, state, and local governments.

You’d never know that from the fake howls from Rep. Bob Bezotte, who accused the governor of neglecting rural areas.

Never mind that Bezotte did nothing about improving broadband service for Livingston County when he served on the county commission. Democratic candidates for county commission in 2020 had called on the commission to establish a broadband committee to begin looking into the need in the county and how to address it, but the GOP commissioners did nothing.

Instead, once in Lansing, Bezotte pushed a bill that would have cost too much and delivered too little.

An analysis of the vetoed bill by the nonpartisan Senate Fiscal Agency noted that one of the issues with providing broadband coverage is affordability for customers. The federal government has announced a program to pay $50 a month for broadband for eligible households. If Republicans were serious about making sure county residents had broadband, they’d be shouting from the rooftops about the FCC Emergency Broadband Benefit, but they’re not.

Livingston County Republicans just aren’t serious about providing broadband to all areas of our county.

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