Joint Budget Committee. The public utilities commission provides financial assistance to telecommunications companies that provide basic telephone service or broadband service in areas that lack effective competition by assessing a surcharge on all telecommunications companies in the state and allocating those contributions to the high cost support mechanism (HCSM). A portion of the HCSM is transferred to the broadband fund, which fund is administered by the broadband deployment board (board). The board awards grants for projects aimed at deploying broadband service in unserved areas of the state. From 2016 to 2023, the HCSM surcharge is statutorily reduced by a percentage of the amount of contributions that were allocated to the broadband fund in the previous year.
The bill requires that HCSM funds allocated to the broadband fund be transferred on July 1 of each year and that HCSM money in the broadband fund be continuously appropriated.