Assemblymembers Muratsuchi, Garcia, and Santiago introduce Broadband bond bill to close the digital divide and jumpstart economic recovery

Monday, December 7, 2020

Torrance, CA – Assemblymembers Al Muratsuchi (D-Torrance), Miguel Santiago (D-Los Angeles) and Assemblymember Eduardo Garcia (D-Coachella) along with Principal Coauthor Senator Steve Glazer (D-Orinda) introduced the California Broadband for All Bond Act, AB 34, a general obligation bond measure of up to $10 billion to close the digital divide throughout California.

The goal of the measure is to close the digital divide by investing in statewide broadband infrastructure and increasing access to high-speed internet in unserved and underserved communities throughout the state. The bill will also help jumpstart the state's economic recovery and support public education, telecommuting, telehealth and telemedicine, emergency response and preparedness, and other vital services.

"California needs to go big and bold to close the digital divide and jumpstart economic recovery," Assemblymember Muratsuchi said. "This pandemic has highlighted enormous disparities in access to reliable, high-speed internet, especially in rural and low-income urban communities. As the ‘Innovation State,' California should lead by significantly increasing its investment in public broadband infrastructure to provide affordable and reliable access to the internet for all Californians."

"The California Legislature is preparing to go big to address our immediate and long-term broadband disparities. This measure is a critical component in securing the investments needed to bridge the digital divide in unserved communities. I highly commend Assemblymember Muratsuchi for his commitment to this issue, and proudly join him along with a coalition of our colleagues on a package of policy proposals to ensure internet access for all," said Assemblymember Garcia.

"This pandemic has shown us that there are hundreds of thousands of Californians who are stranded without internet and who will continue to be cut off if we don't deliver it," said Assemblymember Santiago, Chair of the Assembly Communications and Conveyance Committee. "High quality internet that is fast, affordable, and reliable should flow freely into every home. It is time for us to step in and invest in our broadband infrastructure, just as we did with our highways and water systems. Together, we must meet this challenge head on."

"Broadband access and digital connectivity are as much about equity as they are the economy and education. The COVID-19 pandemic spotlights the divide between digital ‘haves' and ‘have-nots'. In our era of telehealth, distance learning, telework and more, it is unacceptable that millions of Californians remain in the dark," said California State Association of Counties (CSAC) First Vice President, Rural County Caucus Chair and Siskiyou County Supervisor Ed Valenzuela. "There are virtually no educational or economic opportunities without reliable access to broadband, and too many rural, suburban and urban communities remain frozen out. This bond will provide the immediate, significant funding necessary to connect all of California's communities and ensure equitable access to public health, public safety, education, entrepreneurship and economic opportunities."

"Existing inequities in device and internet connectivity have been exacerbated throughout the state as districts have moved to distance learning to provide educational services during the coronavirus pandemic. Addressing this problem must be a 2021 priority and our proposal creates a path to ensure schools can build broadband services needed to close the digital divide gap for all students," said Tatia Davenport, CEO of the California Association of School Business Officials (CASBO).

Assemblymember Al Muratsuchi, the Assistant Majority Leader for Policy and Research,  represents California's 66th Assembly District, which includes El Camino Village, Gardena, Harbor City, Harbor Gateway, Hermosa Beach, Lomita, Los Angeles, Manhattan Beach, Palos Verdes Estates, Rancho Palos Verdes, Redondo Beach, Rolling Hills, Rolling Hills Estates, Torrance, and West Carson.  Muratsuchi is the Chair of the Assembly Select Committee on Aerospace, and is a member of the Assembly Committees on Environmental Safety and Toxic Materials, Natural Resources, Utilities and Energy, and Veterans Affairs.

Contact: Kerry Jacob, 310-806-0893