[CalFiber] Fwd: Regarding Governor's Proposal on Broadband

Shayna Englin shayna at 42comms.com
Wed Jun 9 15:01:43 PDT 2021


Friends: see below and attached - letter from five of the state's largest
community foundations submitted today.






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June 7, 2021



President pro Tem Toni Atkins

California State Senate

State Capitol

Sacramento, CA 95814

Speaker Anthony Rendon

California State Assembly

State Capitol

Sacramento, CA 95814

Senator Nancy Skinner, Chair

Senate Budget and Fiscal Review Committee

State Capitol

Sacramento, CA 95814



Assemblymember Phil Ting, Chair

Assembly Budget Committee

State Capitol

Sacramento, CA 95814

Honorable Members of the California Legislature,



The undersigned community foundations would like to express strong support
for Governor Newsom’s historic investment of $7 billion to expand universal
broadband access and affordability for high need communities, and support
for moving this entire investment forward without delay.



We want to thank you for your leadership in ensuring that the state’s
responses and investments in these unprecedented times have focused on
equity and inclusion. Without your commitment to racial equity, the
communities that suffered the most severe impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic
and were often left out by federal CARES Act dollars, would have been
further left behind.



Recovering from the pandemic and building a stronger, more just, and more
equitable California will require further investments in bold, innovative,
and transformative change. Digital equity - ensuring universal access to
fast, affordable, reliable broadband - will be critical to any inclusive
recovery.



The Governor’s proposal and investment is a strong and visionary step
forward, and we believe it should be enacted immediately, as proposed.



More than 15 million Californians live in a broadband monopoly in addition
to the 2.3 million who have no access to broadband at the speeds required
to fully participate in modern society, from education to economic
development to accessing government services. These monopolies have led to
digital redlining, where the fastest, most reliable, and most affordable
broadband infrastructure investments have been limited to wealthy
communities, while the rest are stuck with older, slower, less reliable,
and more expensive service or without any service at all.



The long-term, systemic solution to equitable access, service, and
affordability is a statewide open access middle mile network as the
Governor has proposed — public infrastructure for the public good — and the
time to begin building it is now.



We are concerned that delayed and staggered funding will mean millions of
Californians living in unserved and underserved communities will continue
to fall behind as they face down the disparate impacts of digital
exclusion. These are the same communities that have disproportionately
borne the brunt of pandemic impacts and further delaying their access to
fast, reliable, and affordable broadband will result in further denying
them opportunity for a resilient recovery.



Like you, for more than a year we have responded to help mitigate the
impacts of COVID-19 in highly impacted communities, from Oakland and San
Jose to Southeast Los Angeles. Through grantmaking and public-private
partnerships we contributed to efforts that provided economic and rent
relief, COVID 19 testing and vaccine equity, and supported distance
learning in disconnected communities.



>From that vantage point, the inequitable impacts of the digital divide have
been glaring—with tens of thousands of Californians facing tremendous
barriers to distance learning, left out of the promise of telehealth and
unable to schedule access vaccine appointments, locked out of access to
government services, and unable to be counted in the Census because of poor
connectivity and access to devices.



Just as glaring has been the limited ability of local jurisdictions to
quickly expand access or ensure affordability or the necessary speeds and
reliability. The governor’s proposal would allow localities to immediately
begin to solve those shortcomings.



Publicly owned open access middle mile infrastructure is useful
mile-by-mile, making a difference as soon as building begins. Slow action,
extending the investment across multiple years, or delaying implementation
by even a few months would come at a tremendous cost, perpetuating the
inequities for years or even a generation to come.



The Governor’s plan puts the dollars to work immediately, leverages federal
funding that may become unavailable in the case of delay, and deploys
solutions to address many facets of the digital divide in parallel, further
accelerating the impact of the investment.



We urge your support and immediate adoption of these critical investments
in digital equity and our communities’ future.



Antonia Hernández

President and CEO, California Community Foundation







Fred Blackwell

CEO, San Francisco Foundation

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Nicole Taylor

CEO, Silicon Valley Community Foundation



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Mark Stewart

President and CEO, San Diego Foundation



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James Head

President and CEO, East Bay Community Foundation
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