Today, the State Finance Council (SFC) approved $60 million to expand broadband access, $3.9 million in reimbursements to state agencies for COVID-19 related operational expenses and up to $5 million for consulting services for meeting the accounting and compliance requirements of the Coronavirus Relief Fund (CRF). The SPARK taskforce recommended these proposals to SFC for approval; all will be funded through the CRF.
“COVID-19 has made it clear how important access to high speed internet is for Kansans in rural and urban regions alike. Whether it’s telemedicine, teleworking, or online education capabilities, broadband is a singular tool that can change outcomes for communities. My administration will continue to support investments in our state’s infrastructure like high speed internet to put us on stronger economic footing as we continue our road to recovery,” Governor Laura Kelly said.
The connectivity proposal featured $50 million for improving broadband infrastructure and $10 million for partnerships with internet service providers to serve low-income populations.
“The SPARK taskforce identified expanding broadband access as a top priority and I appreciate the SFC’s recognition that not only was important to approve these funds today but also to consider increasing our investment in round 3,” said SPARK Executive Committee Chair Lyle Butler.
On July 29, SFC approved $254 million funding for public health, education, and economic development. That allocation combined with today’s approvals for connectivity, remaining FY 20 state agency reimbursements and the consulting contract for the Recovery Office, will complete the round 2 funding of the CRF. There will be approximately $290 million of CRF funding remaining for round 3. Previously, $400 million was allocated to Kansas counties in round 1.
“The expediated timeline we’re operating under creates an even greater need for accountability and transparency to taxpayers and I appreciate the State Finance Council for providing the Recovery Office the necessary support to ensure we’re delivering the quality investments Kansans deserve,” said Recovery Office Executive Director Julie Lorenz.
More information on today’s meeting can be found here: https://covid.ks.gov/spark-meetings/