SANTA FE – Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham on Saturday announced the introduction of legislation that will leverage state broadband development funds to attract additional private investment in order to dramatically expand the state’s digital infrastructure.
HB 9 creates the Broadband Infrastructure Development Fund, enabling public agencies to enter into public-private partnerships for the development of broadband infrastructure across the state and providing $10 million for the awarding of grants and loans to local governments. Introduced by Reps. Candie Sweetser and Anthony Allison, the legislation addresses a pervasive issue across rural New Mexico, where the vast majority of our neighbors there lack access to high-speed broadband, and specifically ensures the inclusion of tribal nations and pueblos, which are plagued with some of the lowest internet access rates.
“Investments in broadband will be an incredible boon to rural New Mexico,” Gov. Lujan Grisham said. “Public-private broadband partnerships will expand this essential element of a modern, efficient and effective infrastructure system. I’m thrilled we can take action here and, as a result, see improvements in education and public safety while also boosting productivity and incomes across the state.”
“Broadband expansion for border and rural communities is essential for economic development, education, and security,” said Rep. Sweetser. “This legislation is a critical step forward to expand opportunities and ensure the success of workers and businesses throughout New Mexico. I am proud to work alongside the governor and all stakeholders to advance this initiative and invest in rural New Mexico.”
“New Mexico is a vast and diverse state, and expanding access to broadband will connect New Mexicans to new and exciting opportunities,” said Rep. Allison. “This legislation will improve internet reliability – especially for Native American communities – so that New Mexicans won’t have to drive miles to access the internet. It is time that we close the digital divide so that all our communities have the tools they need to thrive.”