State Commerce & Labor Director Roger Madsen told legislative budget writers this morning that rural broadband grants from the state of $4.9 million, matched dollar for dollar by industry, expanded service to 79 Idaho communities in the past year, with nearly 50,000 potential new customers. Rep. George Eskridge, R-Dover, noted that he’s gotten complaints from his constituents that the service hasn’t come their way, to which Madsen responded with a long list of North Idaho towns that Verizon got matching funds to serve, including Athol, Plummer, Kellogg and many more.
Eskridge noted that those towns weren’t in his district. “Maybe we should let Verizon know that we have a Bonner and Boundary county,” he commented. Madsen responded, “Good idea. … I’ll send them a letter this afternoon.”
The department had asked for $10 million more in broadband matching grants for next year, but Gov. Butch Otter recommended zero.