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BROADBAND Getting it right regarding fees

Sen. George Borrello, R-Sunset Bay, was one of the first to call for the elimination of state fees on broadband internet infrastructure in state Transportation Department rights-of-way.

It won’t be his bill on the matter that gets passed. That distinction will likely go to Assemblywoman Carrie Woerner and Sen. Michelle Hinchey, Democrats who have, over the past month, introduced their own bills ending the fees.

In the end it doesn’t matter whose name is on the bills. The right-of-way fees for broadband should be eliminated. Borrello was right in 2020 when he argued that the fees are one factor in private companies shying away from broadband investment. He’s also right when he says, time and again, that the state’s profligate spending habits lead to the state increasing fees and regulations in hundreds of ways each year. The combined weight of these fees and regulations is becoming an increasingly heavy lift for the private sector to invest in new technologies like broadband or to provide new services.

It just so happens this particular fee is hurting the state’s efforts to build out broadband internet. This item was slipped quietly into the state budget a couple of years ago, and may be removed because broadband availability is something no one can argue against. However, other fees and regulations similarly slipped into budgets or as part of bigger bills will live on, and the weight on the private sector will just get heavier with each passing year.

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