As states continue to address the COVID-19 pandemic, including economic recovery efforts, Governor Tom Wolf and a bipartisan coalition of 11 governors today sent a letter urging the president and Congressional leaders to make critical investments to ensure that all Americans have access to broadband internet connectivity, which they say is critical infrastructure that’s vitally important to our economic future and national security.
“An investment in broadband internet connectivity is an investment in our commonwealth’s future and prosperity. The critical need for high-speed internet has become clear in light of our efforts to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, as more families work and learn from home, businesses operate online services and patients access medical care through telehealth,” Gov. Wolf said. “Now, as Pennsylvania focuses on our economic recovery, it’s critical that broadband internet access becomes a reality for every community, and especially our rural areas.
“It’s clear that this is more than a Pennsylvania issue – the digital divide exists in communities across the country,” Gov. Wolf said. “It’s in everyone’s best interest, especially as technology continues to evolve and advance, that we make a significant infrastructural investment.”
Some 18 million Americans, including nearly a million Pennsylvanians, lack access to broadband internet connectivity. Businesses and families without adequate access are left behind, and the consequences are staggering from an economic, health, education, and social standpoint, the governors said. A significant investment in broadband connectivity, the governors added, will unleash economic potential, promote stable job growth that’s resilient in times like these, and ensure all businesses and families can participate in the digital economy.
Governor Wolf has made access to high-speed internet a top priority. He led this bipartisan call to address the issue following a discussion with Land O’Lakes President and CEO Beth Ford. The farmer owned cooperative is working with organizations across industries including agriculture, healthcare, finance, and tech to address connectivity.
“We commend Governor Wolf and his fellow leaders for making this bipartisan call to action and for recognizing that our country simply cannot afford to allow the digital divide to widen,” Ford said. “Land O’Lakes, and many of our partners who understand the economic, educational and quality of life impacts that digital technology can have for individuals and for communities, look forward to working together with these governors and other policy makers as we advocate for high-speed internet access to become a reality for all Americans.”
Broadband internet access is also a key component of Restore Pennsylvania, a statewide plan to aggressively address the commonwealth’s vital infrastructure needs, including installation of infrastructure to bring high speed internet to every corner of the commonwealth. Funded through a commonsense severance tax, Restore Pennsylvania is the only plan that will help make Pennsylvania a leader in the 21st century.