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Kentucky budget official gives update on broadband expansion

Some county leaders in Kentucky are urging state government to speed up the rollout of a major broadband expansion.

Last year’s General Assembly approved $300 million in funding for high-speed internet to some of Kentucky's most under-served areas.

Henderson County Judge-Executive Brad Schneider Schneider addressed the legislature’s Interim Appropriations and Revenue Committee in Frankfort on Wednesday. He said communities bordering other states are at a competitive disadvantage when it comes to growth and economic development.

“We lose potential Kentuckians, we lose homeowners across the river to Evansville and Vanderburgh County in Indiana because they’ve been able to roll out their internet services faster," Schneider stated.

State Budget Director John Hicks is currently overseeing the broadband expansion, which he said will be expedited by an Office of Broadband Development. The agency is currently being established and a search is underway for anexecutive director.

The $300 million in funding to expand broadband is from the American Rescue Plan Act. So far, the state has awarded more than $89 million in grants to 12 internet service providers and local governments across 35 Kentucky counties. That’s expected to bring reliable broadband to more than 34,000 homes and businesses. Some local leaders say the rollout is going too slowly, with a number of under-served areas still years away from having high-speed internet.

Lisa is a Scottsville native and WKU alum. She has worked in radio as a news reporter and anchor for 18 years. Prior to joining WKU Public Radio, she most recently worked at WHAS in Louisville and WLAC in Nashville. She has received numerous awards from the Associated Press, including Best Reporter in Kentucky. Many of her stories have been heard on NPR.