Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds says now is the time to take bold action to improve and expand broadband connectivity in the state.
During her annual Condition of the State Address Tuesday night, Governor Reynolds highlighted several of her priorities for 2021. Near the top of the list was the announcement of a $450 million investment for rural broadband expansion. Reynolds says this massive funding will ensure every part of Iowa will have affordable high-speed broadband internet by 2025.
“As we’ve seen during the pandemic, high-speed internet is as vital to our communities as running water and electricity,” Reynolds said. “If they don’t have it, they cannot grow. Every year I’ve been governor I have focused on expanding broadband to every community. We are making progress, but not enough.”
“About a third of our counties are still broadband deserts,” the governor continued, “where high-speed internet is rarely offered – and for many Iowans – it’s just not affordable. Iowa also has the second lowest broadband speeds in the country.”
Governor Reynolds also took time at the beginning of her address to look back on a challenging year in 2020.
“It’s been a year, and I will let you fill in whatever adjective you want,” Reynolds said. “COVID-19, civil unrest, a drought and a derecho. We’ve been beaten and battered in about every way imaginable and some unimaginable, but together we’ve met every challenge with bravery and outright grit. We’re told that tribulation produces perseverance, and perseverance, character. From what I’ve seen, there’s no shortage of character in the people of Iowa.”
Additionally, the governor laid out a COVID-19 economic recovery plan, announced an investment in developing more childcare options, and the expansion of on-the-job training opportunities.
Reynolds delivered her address in primetime, which is a big change from tradition. The Condition of the State Address is usually delivered the morning of the second day of the legislative session.