Washington, DC – Today, the House of Representatives passed a spending package designed to fund large portions of the government for the next fiscal year. Included in the package was the Financial Services and General Government (FSGG) Appropriations Act, which contained $61 billion in emergency spending to expand access to broadband for underserved communities.

In addition, Governor Ned Lamont announced this week that his administration is launching the Everybody Learns initiative: a $43.5 million investment in remote learning solutions to close the digital divide in Connecticut and empower students across the state to learn from home, especially as the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic continues impacting the country. The governor said that the funding – which comes from the state’s portion of the federal CARES Act, the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Fund, and the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund – will be used to purchase 50,000 laptops for students, 12 months of access to at-home internet for 60,000 students, create public hotspots free to the public at 200 community sites across the state, and offer social emotional learning content to school districts statewide.

Congressman Jim Himes (CT-04) made the following statement on the federal funding and state initiative:

“I’ve been working for many years to close the education gap between wealthy and poor students. One issue at the very root of this gap is the digital divide, where those who have access to essential technologies like broadband internet thrive while those who don’t suffer.  This access is even more important in the present pandemic, when remote learning is the norm for students across the country.  The $61 billion included in today’s package will help students across the country by expanding broadband infrastructure.

“Expanding the physical infrastructure into rural and underserved areas is not the only challenge we face, however.  There are also many areas of the country, including in Southwest Connecticut, that have the broadband infrastructure, but where students and their families face affordability hurdles that prevent them from using the services. In other words: it doesn’t do you much good to have a cable internet hook up if you can’t afford the cable bill or a computer.  That’s why the Everybody Learns initiative is so important.

“I’m grateful to Governor Lamont for prioritizing education with his initiative and for the work House Majority Whip Clyburn has done to include this vital federal funding in today’s minibus.  I’ll continue to push through every possible avenue to make sure these efforts translate into accessible technology for all students.”

For more information or with questions, contact Patrick Malone at Patrick.malone@mail.house.gov.