Romney, Colleagues Introduce Legislation to Improve Broadband Access for Utah’s Rural Schools

WASHINGTON—U.S. Senators Mitt Romney (R-UT), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), John Boozman (R-AR), and Joe Manchin (D-WV) introduced the Connected Rural Schools Act to help close the digital disconnect for rural students. The legislation will ensure that broadband and other internet accessibility technologies are eligible for funding from the existing Secure Rural Schools (SRS) Program.

“In many rural communities in our state, students don’t have access to broadband internet at school, effectively preventing them access to the resources they use to learn and succeed,” Senator Romney said. “Our legislation will amend current law to enhance access to broadband communications in rural parts of our state that are currently underserved.”

“Nevada’s rural communities are full of bright and eager students who need reliable internet access to reach their full educational potential. This legislation will help ensure that even students who live in the Silver State’s most remote counties can access the 21st century technology and resources they need to thrive,” said Senator Cortez Masto. “I’m proud to introduce this legislation to direct federal funding to projects that will improve rural broadband and school connectivity. I’ll continue to fight to secure meaningful investments in Nevada’s young people, no matter their zip code.”

“Connectivity has become an integral part of our everyday lives and lack of access to broadband puts rural America in danger of falling behind the curve. This is especially true when it comes to education. Having the ability to get online at school is as essential as having modern textbooks and ample supplies. I am pleased to join with my colleagues to introduce this bill that will help ensure that children in our rural communities have the same opportunities as their peers in urban and suburban schools,” said Senator Boozman. 

“This bipartisan legislation would allow a portion of Secure Rural Schools funding to be used to expand broadband access in rural counties across our country. This is an important step towards eliminating the ‘homework gap’ and ensuring every student has access to the Internet when they leave school – whether on a school bus, at a library, or at home,”
Senator Manchin said.

The Connected Rural Schools Act adds broadband and other internet accessibility technologies to the list of eligible items on which Secure Rural Schools (SRS) Program dollars can be spent. The SRS program provides assistance to rural counties impacted by the decline in revenue from land use activities on federal lands. This legislation is another innovative way to enable federal investment in improving broadband access for rural students. In October, Senator Romney cosponsored legislation that would provide long-term financial security for rural counties by reauthorizing the SRS program.