The bill would create the State Broadband Development Office (SBDO), which is administratively attached to The University of Texas System. The SBDO would be required to establish and annually update a map that designates the eligibility of each census block. The map would have to be published by the SBDO on its website by September 1, 2022. The bill would require the SBDO to develop a state broadband plan by September 1, 2022.
The SBDO is required to establish a program to award grants, low-interest loans, and other financial incentives to applicants for the purpose of expanding access to and adoption of broadband service in census blocks.
The bill would create the new Broadband Development Account in the General Revenue Fund. The account would consist of legislative appropriations, gifts, grants, donations, and federal funds received for the purpose of broadband development. Money in the account could only be used for purposes of administering the SBDO or creating or updating the map.
According to The University of Texas System, the proposed legislation is anticipated to result in a five year general revenue cost to the agency of $2.7 million and require 2.5 additional FTEs.
Additionally, there would be indeterminate costs to staff and perform the duties of the SBDO and the amount of grants, loans or incentives needed to expanded broadband services in needed areas is unknown.
The legislation would do one or more of the following: create or recreate a dedicated account in the General Revenue Fund, create or recreate a special or trust fund either within or outside of the Treasury, or create a dedicated revenue source. The fund, account, or revenue dedication included in this bill would be subject to funds consolidation review by the current Legislature.