After Vetoing NCGA’s Broadband Grant Program, Gov. Cooper Sings a Different Tune
Gov. Cooper Vetoed Funding for the GREAT Program in 2018 and 2019
Now, After Forcing Students to Shift to Remote Learning, He Backtracks
Raleigh, N.C. —Raleigh, N.C. — In 2018, the General Assembly created a groundbreaking program to expand broadband internet access in under-served areas of the state. Gov. Roy Cooper vetoed funding for the program in 2018 and 2019. Now though, after he forced remote learning on students, he’s taking credit for the funding the General Assembly allocated in May.
The General Assembly allocated an additional $9 million to the GREAT Program with CARES Act funding in May. Lawmakers also approved $11 million for additional Wi-Fi access in homes, $35 million for electronic devices to access remote learning, and $1 million to equip buses with Wi-Fi. That’s in addition to the recurring $15 million for the GREAT Program during the current fiscal year.
Sen. Vickie Sawyer (R-Iredell) said, “It’s no secret that we need to expand internet access across the state. Access to reliable internet opens up a world of opportunity for students. That’s why the General Assembly established the GREAT Program in 2018 and allocated additional funds when the pandemic hit. I’m glad to see that after vetoing funding for the program, Gov. Cooper has had a change of heart. Hopefully, he can work collaboratively with us in the future to continue this innovative program.”
So far, during the 2019–2020 grant round, the state has awarded more than $12 million to expand access to 8,017 households and 254 businesses in 11 counties.