Internet speed a big topic of conversation for KY legislature

The joint committee on appropriations and revenue of the Kentucky legislature met at Murray State University Thursday to talk about ways to expand internet access among other things. 

Access to high speed internet: President Barack Obama calls it a necessity, and Kentucky is 47th in the country for broadband availability. 

A non-profit called Kentucky Wired gave a presentation on its goal to increase internet speeds for 1,100 government buildings in Kentucky. Debate began right away because of the state’s 10-year agreement with AT&T. That agreement, legislators say, made Kentucky No. 1 in Internet access in the U.S. Sen. Stan Humphries, representing District 1, says the legislature has to be careful not to hurt rural carriers by supporting competition. 

"Being number one today with our school systems, that is nice to see. Where that goes from here down the road and being able to keep that is our next hurdle," Humphries said. 

That hurdle has a lot to do with funding. The total amount Kentucky Wired estimated it will cost to catch government building up to schools is $325 million, but most of that would come from bond sales and private investment. 

In 2013, only 85 percent of Kentucky households had a computer. The national average is 88 percent.

Other topics covered were coal severance funding — which mostly affects coal producing counties — and the commonwealth’s credit rating that has gone from negative to stable.

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