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Commission raises questions about grant rejection

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Posted: Nov 9, 2011 5:32 PM by Mike Steele
Updated: Nov 9, 2011 6:28 PM
Source: WBRZ

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Topics: baton rouge, public service commission, grant, internet, broadband, wbrz, louisiana

BATON ROUGE- Public Service Commissioner Foster Campbell says the private sector has refused to provide high speed internet service to some rural areas of the state. He says Louisiana could desperately use $80 million dollars from a federal grant to expand broadband use.

The Louisiana Board of Regents originally applied for the grant. The Jindal administration says there were too many problems with the initial plan. Commissioner of Administration Paul Rainwater says the administration tried to salvage the plan about nine months into the process.

According to Rainwater, the plan could hurt private industry and even force layoffs. He also says there could be long term problems because the grant did not include money to maintain and repair an expanded system.

Campbell says all options should be considered to reapply for the grant.

He says high speed internet for Louisiana schools today has the same merit as free text books provided years ago. Campbell urged Rainwater to tell Governor Bobby Jindal to fly to Washington to fight for the grant.

The U.S Department of Commerce told the Associated Press Louisiana's appeal will not be granted. A spokesperson for the Board of Regents says no official notice has been received.

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