Senator Hassan Discusses Efforts to Expand Rural Broadband, Strengthen Early Childhood Education
KEENE – In case you missed it, Senator Maggie Hassan yesterday hosted a roundtable with state, regional, and local officials to talk about their work in the Monadnock Region to expand broadband access. The Senator also discussed two bipartisan bills inspired by Chesterfield’s broadband project that would give states, cities, and towns additional tools to spur investment in rural broadband projects.
Earlier in Claremont, the senator toured Southwestern Community Services Head Start Program, where she visited with kids and spoke with parents and program staff about the importance of early-childhood education programs. Senator Hassan has advocated for additional funding for Head Start programs in New Hampshire and across the country, and recently voted to approve the government funding bill – which is now law – that included a record level of $10.6 billion in funding for Head Start, a $550 million increase.
See below for coverage highlights on Senator Hassan’s rural broadband roundtable in Keene:
By Matt Leighton
New Hampshire Sen. Maggie Hassan held a round table discussion Thursday afternoon in Keene on rural broadband.
"To address the particular needs of very rural communities, small towns where commercial entities don't really have a business model that is leveraged to serve everybody," Sen. Hassan said.
Leaders from the area attended the round table, including Southwest Region Planning Commission executive director Tim Murphy.
"We don't meet the business model for the broadband providers. We’re a lower density development and that means we don't attract the top dollar for the investment that's being made so that's been a challenge for our residents, for our businesses and other sectors and to attract and maintain an adequate workforce," Murphy said.
Chesterfield was able to form a public, private partnership to bring broadband access to their town.
"The business model turned out to a business model where the town would bond the $1.8 million broadband upgrade. The Consolidated basically guaranteed all interest and principal payments and so it's no cost to the taxpayers so the taxpayers were floating the loan but there is no cost to the taxpayer and as part of the way the Consolidated would get money to pay back the broadband, we agreed to add on a $10 per month subscriber fee to whoever subscribed to broadband," Brad Roscode, ex-selectman of Chesterfield said.
Sen. Hassan says she is working on two bills with Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) to provide intensives from public, private partnerships.
"We need to make sure that every Granite Stater has access to to high speed internet," Hassan said.
The push to expand access to high speed internet across New Hampshire could gain traction with a new state law that encourages local municipalities to build their own networks. Sen. Maggie Hassan, D-New Hampshire, met with leaders in the Monadnock region Thursday to get an update.
The state law allows cities and towns to issue municipal bonds for broadband construction. Some towns, like Bristol and Chesterfield are already moving ahead with their local broadband build-outs.
Hassan says that the federal government needs to do more to compliment the efforts being made locally. She says those in the more rural areas have the worst access to high speed internet, which puts them at a big disadvantage.
"Rural America is lagging when it comes to broadband access. There has been bipartisan support for closing that divide. We passed the [Broadband] DATA Act at the end of last year for instance. It sounds very basic but that is requiring the Federal Communication Commission to provide much more accurate maps to where there is broadband access and where there isn't," Hassan said.
See below for coverage highlights on Senator Hassan’s visit to the Head Start Program in Claremont:
By Patrick Adrian
New Hampshire Democratic Sen. Maggie Hassan visited the Claremont Head Start program Thursday for an informational discussion with local parents, staff and administrators about the initiative’s importance to the community and challenges that might benefit from more federal support.
Participants in the discussion, which included seven parents and program directors, spoke glowingly about the city’s Head Start program. The parents expressed unanimous praise for the program’s educational services, teachers and the overall school community. Administrators told the senator that they have been fortunate to retain a strong quality team of educators, even when faced with similar staffing challenges that plague pre-schools and child care programs nationwide.
The biggest needs, the directors said, are to expand the access of Head Start, to both cover more families and to open enrollment to infants and younger children.
[…] Hassan said that a major reason for the recent effort in the Congress to increase Head Start funding has been the findings from educational research confirming that the greater attention to child development in the earliest years will reduce the cost on intervention services later.
John Manning, CEO of Southwestern Community Services, told Hassan that Early Head Start, which provides services to children between infancy to age three, needs more funding attention from Congress.
[…] Hassan mentioned her support of a current senate bill sponsored by Washington Democratic Sen. Patty Murray that would provide child care subsidies to families making 50-75% below their state’s median income.
[…] According to Hassan’s office, last year’s government funding bill, which was signed into law, included a “record level” funding of $10.6 billion for Head Start, an increase of $550 million.
While pleased with last year’s increase, Hassan said at the event that she is troubled by President Donald J. Trump’s budget proposal for 2021 that recommends severe cuts to a range of programs, including Medicaid and grant programs for rural communities.
Though presidential budgets have limited influence as Congress has the budgeting authority, these proposals can be an indicator of the course one political party may seek to take during the budget process.
New Hampshire Senator Maggie Hassan says more needs to be done to expand early childhood education programs. She spoke to parents and staff at the Southwest Community Services Head Start Program in Claremont this morning. Hassan has pushed for more funding for programs like this, saying that it's important for children and their parents. Last year a funding bill included more than $10 and a half billion for Head Start.
Senator Hassan: We obviously have a lot of work still to do to expand this program, but overall to make child care and early education resources more affordable and more accessible to more families.
Hassan is cosponsoring a bill now in a Senate committee to make access to quality early education for children more affordable.
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