On April 4, the Maine Legislature rejected a bill that would have expanded the ConnectME Authority’s budget to allow for expanding high-speed Internet into unserved areas of rural Maine. The original draft of the bill asked for $5 million and was gutted to merely $750,000. Rural Maine is yet again ignored.

The expansion of good, fast, reliable broadband in rural Maine would be to the betterment not just to rural Mainers but to the state as a whole.

“The annual sales of Maine’s sole proprietorships and small businesses amount to approximately $21.7 billion a year. If these enterprises were at the national average, the result would be increased annual sales of nearly $50 million a year,” according to ConnectME’s 2015 annual report.

Broadband would also increase the ability to better educate our children and those who need to change careers; to bring in tourists who still want to stay connected to the outside world even if they are in Vacationland; to attract new residents who can telecommute and work from anywhere; and to bring back previous residents who would love to start a new business or stay in their family’s business in rural Maine.

Maine Rural Partners would like to thank the 109 state representatives who voted to increase ConnectME’s budget. We would also like to call out Reps. Timberlake, Windsor, Sirocki and Nutting on the Appropriations Committee for rejecting a sorely needed life and business line in rural Maine.

Robin Beck

executive director

Maine Rural Partners