BEAUMONT, Texas (KXAN) — State lawmakers promoted a plan Monday that would expand broadband access in Texas. Gov. Greg Abbott and House Speaker Dade Phelan visited a school in Beaumont to highlight House Bill 5.
The legislation would create a state broadband development office and require that office to develop a state broadband plan by September 2022.
It would also create grants and loans for entities to expand broadband services. The governor named broadband expansion an emergency item during this legislative session.
“As much as we have begun to plan for this, we still see almost 900,000 people in the state of Texas without access to it. And hence, we all agree. And when I say ‘we all’ I’m talking about more than just the three of us up here. I’m speaking on behalf of both everyone in the House and Senate, because this does have strong bipartisan support. We all agree that we must close that ‘digital divide’ and provide broadband access to everybody in the entire state,” Abbott said at the school.
According to state financial estimates for the bill, the comptroller’s office anticipates costs of almost $4 million over five years, plus the creation of five full-time jobs.
That funding does not include an estimate for how much grant and loan money would end up in the broadband development account.