Bill to Fund Economic Development in Rural Maine Passes Senate Appropriations Committee

The legislation renews funding for the Economic Development Administration and continues Senator Collins’ work to increase access to broadband in rural areas

Washington, D.C. — U.S. Senator Susan Collins, a senior member of the Appropriations Committee, announced that the full committee advanced the fiscal year (FY) 2020 Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies (CJS) funding bill by a vote of 31-0.  The legislation includes provisions championed by Senator Collins to support economic development in rural Maine through improved infrastructure, job creation, and access to broadband.

 

“The investments made through the Economic Development Administration help businesses grow and create and retain good-paying jobs throughout Maine, particularly in our rural communities.  In addition to providing robust funding for the EDA, I am delighted that this bipartisan legislation calls on federal agencies to work together to ensure nationwide broadband deployment to bridge the digital divide between urban and rural areas,” said Senator Collins.  “As a senior member of the Appropriations Committee, I fought to include these provisions, and I am pleased that they were incorporated in the final package.”

 

The FY 2020 CJS funding bill allocates $73.33 billion, which is $9.15 billion more than last year’s funding level.  Provisions championed by Senator Collins to benefit Maine include:

 

·         Broadband Expansion: The report expresses concern that broadband has not been sufficiently deployed in rural areas and directs the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) to coordinate with other federal agencies to enable broadband deployment nationwide. This goal is consistent with the American Broadband Buildout Act of 2019 (ABBA), legislation introduced by Senators Collins and Doug Jones (D-AL).

 

·         Economic Development Administration (EDA): The bill includes $319.5 million for the EDA, which is $15.5 million more than last year’s funding level.  Of this funding, $2 million is dedicated for public works and infrastructure; $7.5 million is for regional innovation; and $5 million is directed towards communities impacted by nuclear power plant closures, which the Administration proposed eliminating.  This program helps communities with stranded nuclear waste to spur economic development.