By State Sen. Andy Zay (R-Huntington)
Congress and the United States Department of the Treasury need to clarify the CARES Act guidelines so states can freely use funding for rural broadband. Flexibility granted from the federal level should empower our governor to act and fund for broadband improvements.
In an effort to attain this flexibility, U.S. Rep. Jim Banks and a group of federal representatives sent a letter to U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin in August requesting the secretary allow state, local and tribal governments the ability to use CARES Act funding for more issues. Subsequent guidance from the U.S. Treasury has not sufficiently cleared up this issue.
The CARES Act provided Indiana with $2.4 billion in funding, and as of Sept.16, we were sitting on $1.3 billion for use. I am urging congress to give Indiana the ability to invest in infrastructure like broadband and "main street" businesses with our CARES Act relief funds.
This pandemic has shown the importance of upgrading rural internet connectivity like never before, including improving opportunities for remote work, telehealth and e-learning. We must also create new measures to help support Hoosier businesses that are struggling because of the shutdown. I believe amending the CARES Act guidelines would help “Main Street USA” and get funds to local businesses that were impacted by the shutdown.
Finally, I want to caution our federal legislators on passing another relief package that contains bail out monies for poorly managed states and municipalities. This would undermine the disciplined efforts of the Indiana General Assembly, and other states, who every biennial craft a balanced budget.
A high-resolution photo of State Sen. Zay is available by clicking here.