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Ohio Senate Budget Bans Municipal Broadband Programs

woman working on a laptop computer
Marco Verch

In their version of the state budget, Ohio Senate Republicans erased money that had been earmarked for broadband programs. But they also added a provision that would ban local communities from doing their own broadband programs.

Republican Senate President Matt Huffman said there’s likely to be what he calls “significant dollars available in the budget” for broadband. However, he said he wants the priority to be rural and underserved urban areas, not for municipalities to become enterpreneurs.

“It may make sense for a local city to go out and say, ‘hey, let’s sell this to a large corporation over here, and they’re going to pay us a lot of money.’ Well, the private sector can do that. They need to go do it to schools, or even businesses that there’s not broadband service,” Huffman said.

The provision would ban all current and future municipal broadband programs if there’s a private company offering broadband in the area. The House and Gov. Mike DeWine would have to agree to it.