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Noem Reaffirms Committment to Increased Broadband Coverage

Jackie Hendry

As the legislative session enters its final weeks, Governor Noem is reminding the public of her priorities for the legislature’s upcoming budget. In an address to the Sioux Falls Area Chamber of Commerce, Noem leads with a commitment to increased broadband service.

Noem says gaps in internet service have cost small towns business opportunities. She says it also puts children in the k-12 school system at a disadvantage.

“We have several school districts that tell us they don’t have good enough internet access throughout their district, that those students and their parents will drive up to the school at night so they can connect to the internet service and do their homework at night," she says. "They literally sit in their cars to do their homework at night because they don’t have any access at home.”

The governor is recommending five million dollars in state funds to partner with federal funds and private companies. She adds the estimated total cost of complete coverage is $300 million, and the state can’t do it alone.

“The other part of this discussion is that frankly we’ve got some companies that haven’t been investing like others have," Noem explains. "So it really can be a company issue. And I’m pushing those companies to step up to the plate like others have and make sure that their service territory is taken care of and those families and businesses are served as well.”

Governor Noem’s other priorities include habitat conservation, economic development, drug crime prevention, and foster care.

The legislature submits its budget for the governor’s approval at the end of session in about two weeks.