Missouri’s governor focusing on rural broadband, especially for schools

Local News

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (Missourinet)– Governor Mike Parson (R) emphasized the importance of broadband in rural Missouri during a Jefferson City appearance on Tuesday, and is praising USDA’s announcement that the state will receive $61 million to expand it.

The governor discussed the issue, while addressing a few hundred Missouri Farm Bureau members at Jefferson City’s Capitol Plaza Hotel. While the Farm Bureau event was closed to the news media, Parson spoke with Missourinet after his presentation.

“If we can get electricity in every home, and we did that back years ago, we can get internet to everybody’s home to where they can be out there and be competitive,” Parson says.

One of the grants announced in late January by USDA is a $2.5 million grant to help the Green Hills Telephone Corporation expand its fiber network in northwest Missouri’s Caldwell and Livingston counties. That’s expected to help a fire district and two educational facilities.

Governor Parson has noted that there are about ten Missouri school districts that still don’t have broadband. The governor says broadband ties-in with education and his workforce development initiatives.

“We’ve got to make sure we got broadband available to our schools, to give those kids a fighting chance out there in today’s world in technology and everything,” says Parson.

U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt (R) also praises USDA’s announcement, calling it an important step toward ending what he calls the digital divide. Senator Blunt says one-third of rural Missourians lack access to broadband.

As for Governor Parson, he’s also emphasizing the importance of infrastructure, rural health care and the rural way of life.

“I always say the agriculture is so important to our state and what it means for the way of life for a lot of these people (Farm Bureau members), but really for what it means for everyday Missourians no matter where you’re from,” Parson says.

The governor is also concerned about possible flooding again this spring. He tells Missourinet he spoke to President Trump about the issue a few weeks ago, and that the president is engaged on the issue.

Parson’s proposed budget sets aside $4 million in disaster recovery funds.

Agriculture is an $88 billion industry in Missouri. The state has about 100,000 farms.

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