Jul 14, 2022
Governor Mills Applauds Significant New Federal Investment to Expand Broadband in Maine
$110 million awarded from American Rescue Plan will complement funding from Governor’s Maine Jobs & Recovery Plan to support work to achieve Governor’s 2024 Connectivity Goal
Portland, MAINE – Governor Janet Mills today praised an announcement by the U.S. Treasury Department that it has approved Maine’s plan to invest $110 million of its allocation from the American Rescue Plan’s Capital Projects Fund to strengthen or expand broadband infrastructure across the state. The funding will focus on serving some of Maine’s most rural counties and remote locations.
“For our people, our economy, and our future, a high-speed internet connection must be available to everyone in Maine who wants one – and that’s why I committed Maine to achieving that goal by the end of 2024,” said Governor Janet Mills. “Maine’s responsible use of these Federal funds – developed by the Maine Connectivity Authority – will help us reach that goal and make a real and positive difference in the lives of Maine people, especially those who live in our rural communities. I am excited by this transformational opportunity, and I thank the Treasury Department, Senator King and Congresswoman Pingree, and the Maine Connectivity Authority for helping make it possible.”
“These funds represent a once-in-a-generation opportunity to build the infrastructure for the future,” said Andrew Butcher, President of the Maine Connectivity Authority. “We are grateful for the opportunity to meet the moment and are committed to getting these funds to work as quickly as possible.”
The Capital Projects Fund was established by the American Rescue Plan Act to strengthen infrastructure – including broadband – necessary for work, education, and health monitoring. Each state received an award according to a formula; the announced award represents 84 percent of Maine’s approximately $128.2 million allocation. Governor Mills has also committed $21 million through her Maine Jobs and Recovery Plan to expand broadband, representing a $150 million investment to expand high speed internet across Maine.
This funding will support the comprehensive effort by the Mills Administration to expand connectivity in Maine. In February, Governor Mills pledged that every person in Maine who wants to connect to the internet will be able to do so by the end of 2024.
In July 2020, Maine voters approved a $15 million broadband bond spearheaded by the Governor, which is helping to bring reliable internet access to more than 14,500 Maine homes and businesses.
In 2021, Governor Mills proposed, and the Legislature unanimously approved, the creation of the Maine Connectivity Authority, a quasi-governmental organization charged with investing $150 million in Federal American Rescue Plan Act funds toward universal availability of broadband in Maine.
In 2020, Governor Mills also dedicated $5.6 million in CARES Act Coronavirus Relief Funds, in partnership with private internet providers, to build out permanent internet infrastructure to more than 730 students across rural Maine. Governor Mills also worked to secure mobile hotspots and learning devices for nearly 24,000 students across Maine after schools suspended in-classroom instruction and adopted remote learning.
Prior to the pandemic, 86,000 people lacked access to the internet. In partnership with internet service providers, Maine communities, and the Connectivity Authority, Maine has cut that to 51,000 – representing an increase of 35,000 people who now have access to high-speed internet under Governor Mills.