June 13, 2011

Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald
211 West, State Capitol
Madison, WI 53708
JFC Co-Chair Robin Vos
309 East, State Capitol
Madison, WI 53708
Speaker Fitzgerald & Co-Chair Vos:
We write to you today with concerns regarding the proposed changes to WiscNet that were passed in the Joint Finance Committee last week. We oppose the provisions in the motion that would force UW Extension to return the $37 million in federal grants meant to be used in improving high-speed internet access in regions of rural Wisconsin.
Our districts are largely rural and broadband access is a significant issue for our constituents. Consumers, regional economic development groups, schools, libraries, and higher education institutions have all expressed their concern that the discontinuation of WiscNet would have a devastating effect on access for our constituents, increasing costs and limiting accessibility.
The construction of new lines in the Chippewa Valley and Southwest areas of our state would mean increased access for our constituents. Rural broadband expansion will ensure that Wisconsin continues to be “Open for Business” and competitive in the national and global economies. Whether in the private or public sector, we support provisions in the budget that enhance broadband deployment throughout Wisconsin.
We urge that the legislature consider the alternative to delay action on WiscNet for two years and accept the federal grant. With this alternative, it would allow the continued progress that is being made, and explore options to provide these services.
Thank you for your consideration.
Rep. Howard Marklein
51st Assembly District
Rep. Travis Tranel
49th Assembly District
Rep. Tom Larson
67th Assembly District

Rep. Roger Rivard
75th Assembly District
Rep. Warren Petryk
93rd Assembly District
Rep. Tom Tiffany
35th Assembly District
Rep. Kathy Bernier
68th Assembly District