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Gov. Hochul pledges $1B for broadband initiatives at State of the State address

Gov. Hochul's broadband promises at the State of the State address are focused on addressing affordability issues and rural deployment.

ALBANY, N.Y. — In her first state of the state address, Gov. Kathy Hochul made a billion-dollar promise for broadband initiatives in New York. 

"This investment will boost innovation and economic growth, especially in our most remote communities," Governor Hochul said during the speech. 

In the state of the state 2022 book released by the executive chamber, more than a dozen initiatives are being proposed. Most of them are aimed at closing the broadband affordability gap and rural deployment. 

The Governor's outline says this is being driven by a new statewide "ConnectAll" office. According to the plan published by the state, New York will invest up to $300 million towards the initiative, the remaining funds are expected to come from the federal infrastructure bill that passed in 2021, an estimated $700 million according to the plan. 

Hochul's plan will provide additional support for the federal $30/month low-income subsidy and Homes and Community Renewal will add affordable internet to its overall housing plan. 

Governor Cuomo had initiated a low-income internet policy, but that measure was defeated in the courts back in the summer of 2021. 

For rural New Yorkers, Hochul's plan will allow municipalities to apply for grants if they plan to build open and accessible broadband infrastructure, which is a significant policy shift from Governor Cuomo. Cuomo rejected and pocket vetoed several municipal programs while in office. Governor Hochul's plan seems to be the first step for communities in New York to develop municipal broadband systems with state aid. 

"It was heartening to hear broadband expansion mentioned among the governor’s many plans for the upcoming year," Senator Sean Ryan said in a statement. "It is a bipartisan issue that affects families in every region of our state, making it a priority for legislators on both sides of the aisle."

Other items in Hochul's plan include standardizing right-of-way access, leveraging existing state fiber assets, rural middle and last-mile deployment grants, and a statewide digital equity program.