When the Indiana General Assembly wasn’t in session this past summer and fall, I spent a lot of my time investigating innovative ways to increase funding for rural broadband projects. After plenty of research, I requested a bill be written that would bring in revenue for our state by imposing a surcharge tax on social media providers like Facebook and Twitter.
If a company met the parameters, the bill would require them to pay a 7% tax on their Indiana-based advertising revenue. Additionally, the companies would owe the Indiana Department of Revenue one dollar for every active Indiana account holder.
This bill could generate roughly $50 million dollars in the first year and nearly $100 million by the second year. Of that funding, under my proposal, 90% would be allocated for rural broadband improvements and expansion, and 10% would be allocated to the Online Bullying, Social Isolation and Suicide Prevention Fund. Every year, more money could be filing in as more Hoosiers join social media sites.
According to Indiana Constitution, all revenue-generating bills must start in the House of Representatives. I'm grateful to Rep. J.D. Prescott (R-Union City), who agreed to work with me on House Bill 1312, which has been assigned to the House Committee on Ways and Means.
Considering the impact COVID-19 has had on our ability to connect, making us more reliant on the internet than ever, I hope to see this innovative idea generate a lot of discussion this session among legislators, stakeholders and members of the public. I think this legislation could have a positive and immediate impact.
For a high-resolution photo of Zay, click here.