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Politics and Government

Lawmakers Approve $42 Million In Tax Incentives To Expand Broadband

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Gov. Kevin Stitt signed a more than $9 billion budget for the next fiscal year, including millions in tax incentives for broadband companies. The hope is that the money will expand internet access in underserved and rural communites across Oklahoma.

The budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1st includes $42 million in tax incentives to expand high-speed Internet access in underserved areas. Brian Whitacre is an agricultural economics professor at Oklahoma State University, and says this is good news for Oklahoma. 

"The bill itself is pretty clear that companies can only get reimbursed for equipment, if they go into areas that are right now unserved or underserved, meaning they don't have the official definition of broadband. So I do think this will have a meaningful impact on getting broadband infrastructure out into rural Oklahoma," said Whitacre. 

Whitacre studies what state governments can do to expand rural broadband. He says while  incentives are a good move, a state grant program and full time employees working on a broadband expansion council would help Oklahoma expand rural high-speed internet.

This report was produced by the Oklahoma Public Media Exchange, a collaboration of public media organizations. Help support collaborative journalism by donating at the link at the top of this webpage.

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