SACRAMENTO, CA – Assemblymember Cecilia Aguiar-Curry (D-Winters) announced today that AB 156, the Broadband Budget Bill, passed the Assembly with a 78-0, bipartisan vote. The bill later passed the State Senate by 39-0 margin. Aguiar-Curry was a member of the Assembly negotiating team that keyed the deal with Governor Newsom and the Senate on the package. AB 156 revolutionizes the State’s broadband deployment program under the California Advanced Services Fund Program, and provides new and increased funding to bring California into the technological 21st Century.
The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has laid bare the massive gaps in internet connectivity at sufficient speeds for too many Californians. As more Californians have struggled to conduct distance learning, virtual work, access telehealth services, and safeguard small business participation in the virtual marketplace, the need to connect the State at sufficient speeds with adaptable technology has reached crisis proportion.
"Even before the pandemic, which shone a glaring light on Californians’ lack of reliable, affordable internet services, we knew access to the internet is essential for participating in the promise of today’s online world," said Assemblymember Cecilia Aguiar-Curry (D-Winters). "I want to thank my colleague Senator Gonzalez for her partnership, and the Governor, Legislative Leadership and my colleagues on the negotiating team for this incredible achievement. With the passage of SB 156 today, California has committed to a generational investment in providing for all Californians the access they need to internet-based services like education and job training, telehealth, and the digital economy. The California of today cannot lead our people into the future with the technology of the past. We must now pass the policy companions in AB 14 and SB 4 to complete the roadmap to Internet For All in our State."
“Today’s unanimous vote in favor of SB 156 is a huge milestone in our efforts to close the digital divide in California,” said Senator Lena A. Gonzalez (D-Long Beach). “This investment to modernize our broadband infrastructure is sorely needed and was long overdue. Expanding access to affordable, high-speed internet will empower future generations, provide them better opportunities and greater upward mobility. We cannot leave any child, senior, individual or family behind. This bill will also spur a competitive environment amongst local internet service providers and California small businesses of all sizes to drive technical innovation and increase broadband affordability. I am very thankful to Senate Leadership and the collective work of all my colleagues in the Legislature to help pass this incredible bill. Now we must continue our advocacy for the successful passage of SB 4 and AB 14 as well in order to secure continuous funding and strengthen policy to advance Digital Equity through Broadband for All." The Broadband Budget Bill prioritizes the deployment of broadband infrastructure in California’s most vulnerable and unserved rural and urban communities by extending the ongoing collection of funds deposited into the California Advanced Services Fund (CASF) to provide communities with grants necessary to bridge the digital divide. AB 14 offers a vital pathway to connect California’s workforce to gainful employment, harness the life-saving technology of telemedicine, democratize distance learning, enable precision agriculture, and sustain economic transactions in the 21st Century E-Marketplace.
The Act extends eligibility for grants administered by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) to local and tribal governments, who are willing and able to quickly and efficiently connect households, community anchor institutions (including educational institutions, fairgrounds for emergency response, and healthcare facilities), small businesses, and employers. AB 156 is a measured and meaningful approach to building a statewide fiber middle-mile “backbone” network, and last-mile connections to homes and businesses, that will provide higher speeds and access to connectivity to all those who are unserved along the path of deployment.
Assemblymember Aguiar-Curry represents the 4th Assembly District, which includes all of Lake and Napa Counties, parts of Colusa, Solano and Sonoma Counties, and all of Yolo County except West Sacramento. www.asm.ca.gov/aguiar-curry