UPDATE Things are going GREAT (Growing Rural Economies with Access to Technology) in North Carolina now that legislators have reached an agreement on rural broadband funding, reports the Sampson Independent. “Rural North Carolina needs access to broadband now more than ever. I am thankful that a bipartisan agreement has been reached to ensure funding for GREAT grants going into 2021,” said State Senator Brent Jackson.
As previously reported by Inside Towers, there was some turmoil within the state as it appeared that Governor Roy Cooper intended to redirect $30 million in broadband grant funding. The confusion seems to have its roots in various legal interpretations of which funds could be used for which purposes, coupled with deadlines that may have made some funds unavailable.
To clear up the matter, legislative and executive branches of the state government coordinated resources to negotiate a way to juggle their finances and keep broadband funding in place. Simply put, legislators plan to take the $30 million in GREAT funding and re-allocate it to the state General Fund, according to the Independent. When the legislators reconvene in early 2021, they will then take $30 million from the General Fund and redirect it to GREAT. GREAT can then use the funding to continue its rural broadband outreach.
“Expanding access to rural broadband is a shared priority, and I’m glad we could successfully resolve this issue,” said North Carolina State Senate Leader Phil Berger. His colleague, House Speaker Tim Moore, agreed adding, “Rural broadband remains a top priority of this General Assembly, and our state is fortunate to have continued revenue availability to meet this need and make flexible budget adjustments as federal rules may require.”