SACRAMENTO (CBS SF) — Looking to make good use of a massive state budget windfall, Gov. Gavin Newsom plans to invest $7 billion into closing California’s digital divide.
In a proposal he announced Friday, Newsom hopes to use the funds to expand broadband service across the state, ensuring all households have access to high speed internet — an issue that became unavoidable during the COVID-19 lockdown last year, when all k-12 schools went online. School districts like Oakland’s saw tens of thousands of its students struggle to access education when forced to stay home.READ MORE: UPDATE: Many in East Bay Still Without Power
“Beyond excited that @CaGovernor is making a $7 billion investment to finally close the #DigitalDivide and bring affordable and accessible high-speed internet to all Californians,” Newsom’s wife Jennifer Siebel Newsom posted on Instagram. “This historic announcement will build upon the Governor’s and my push to get in-kind and financial commitments from companies and philanthropists to provide internet access for hundreds of thousands of households, and personal devices for over 70,000 students last year!”READ MORE: Menlo Park Man Stabbed at Party
Newsom’s proposal would direct federal funding to build a statewide fiber broadband network for internet service providers to use, saving these companies on construction costs. The goal is to provide high speed connections to at least 51% of rural households without them.MORE NEWS: One Dead, Three Wounded In Early Sunday Morning Shooting In Oakland's Uptown Neighborhood
The state would also create a $500 million-loan program to help local municipalities with costs.