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Ohio Senate Unplugs Broadband Budget

cable modem
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Pixabay

In this week's episode of Snollygoster, Ohio's politics podcast from WOSU, hosts Mike Thompson and Steve Brown discuss the Ohio Senate's move to cut funding to an effort to expand internet access to unserved areas. Broadband access advocate Lindsay Miller joins the show.

Broadband Banned

The pandemic made clear the importance of having a strong internet connection. For over a year, many of us had to work from home and our kids had to go to school from home. If you did not have a strong internet connection, you were in big trouble.

Many in Ohio don’t have a fast broadband connection. About 1 million Ohioans lack a broadband connection, nearly 10% of the state’s population.

So you’d think lawmakers would want to work to expand broadband access. But you’d be wrong. Some want to restrict broadband expansion.

It’s all part of the state budget process. Ohio Gov. DeWine’s budget actually boosted broadband spending by $250 million. The Ohio House said "that’s a little rich for us," so they trimmed it to $190 million.

The Senate however zeroed out broadband funding and it inserted a provision that makes it very hard for city and county governments to provide broadband services. Supporters of the provision argue government broadband programs unfairly compete with private broadband providers.

Million Dollar Motivation

It turns out the Vax-A-Million lottery while creating a lot of buzz, really did not do all that much to convince Ohioans to get vaccinated.

The AP’s Andrew Welsh Huggins did an analysis and found there was a 43% increase in vaccines in the first week after the lottery was announced but vaccinations dropped since then. Even DeWine acknowledged the impact went down after that second week.

After the Vax-A-Million sweepstakes, 44% of the state’s population is fully vaccinated, which is just below the national average. Back on May 12, when DeWine announced the lottery, Ohio was 37% fully vaccinated. So we’ve seen a 5% increase.

Snollygoster Of The Week

The resumes are in for people looking to replace expelled State Rep. Larry Householder. His son has applied. Several county officials in his district applied. But by far our favorite candidate is Chris McNeil of Granville.

He’s a social media legend in Ohio, best known as Reflog_18 on Twitter. He organized the parade to celebrate the 0-16 Cleveland Browns in 2017. His claim to fame during the pandemic was to post an old picture of the Cleveland Cavalier’s championship celebration and say it was a crowd somewhere ignoring COVID protocols.

McNeil’s Twitter bio offers something of a campaign slogan: “BECAUSE I AM LESS CORRUPT THAN THE LAST GUY.”

Send questions and comments to snollygoster@wosu.org.

Mike Thompson spends much of his time correcting people who mispronounce the name of his hometown – Worcester, Massachusetts. Mike studied broadcast journalism at Syracuse University when he was not running in circles – as a distance runner on the SU track team.
Steve Brown grew up in nearby Richwood, Ohio and now lives there with his wife and sons. He started his journalism career as a weekend board operator at WOSU while majoring in journalism at Ohio State, where he also wrote for the student newspaper The Lantern and co-founded the organization Students for Public Broadcasting.