Thursday, January 15, 2009

House stimulus plan includes money for rural broadband, more for digital-TV converter coupons

UPDATE, Jan. 16: For other rural-related items in the bill, from the Daily Yonder, click here.

The House Appropriations Committee "today released details of an economic stimulus package that would include $6 billion in grants to bring high-speed Internet lines to rural and other underserved areas," reports Cecilia Yang of The Washington Post. The panel "also called for $650 million for the National Telecommunications and Information Administration to provide coupons for consumers to buy converter boxes for the Feb. 17 digital television transition." The coupon program is out of money and is keeping a waiting list.

The broadband and digital TV incentives are part of a larger $825 billion stimulus plan developed by congressional Democrats with President-elect Barack Obama. Freshman rural Democrats are pushing for rural stimulus and are led by Rep. Betsy Markey, D-Colo., who met with members of the Obama economic team to share ideas. (Read more)

During that meeting, Markey "said the only commitment she got from the Obama staffers was that he would push for a two- or three-year extension of the renewable energy production tax credit in his $775 billion stimulus plan," reports Faith Bremner of The Coloradoan in Fort Collins. (Read more)

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