Walczyk’s Quest to Enact Broadband Build-Free Initiative Becomes Law in State Budget

Assemblyman Mark Walczyk (R,C,I-Watertown) has been a leading advocate on pushing Gov. Hochul and legislative leaders to enact a measure that would allow for the state to expand broadband access more quickly and cost-effectively for people and businesses across the state. Walczyk has been the sponsor of legislation to particularly do so in rural areas (A.4373), and a similar measure was included in the governor’s State of the State Address leading up to budget negotiations. Walczyk is proud to announce that the proposal has been included in the final 2022-23 State Budget.

Specifically, the initiative eliminates the entirety of the state’s fiber optic tax. This will greatly reduce the cost on broadband companies, allowing them to lay the necessary broadband cable and internet infrastructure needed to ensure people all across the state —especially in hard-to-reach and underserved areas—are no longer left out when it comes to obtaining the affordable, high-speed broadband that is essential to everyone’s daily lives.

“This is a huge win for the people of our state, especially those in the Front Yard of America where there is little access and for whom I fought so hard to make this a reality,” said Walczyk. “I am thrilled this is happening so that students, businesses, emergency responders and anyone who wants or needs access to the internet in our neck of the woods will soon have it— and for a reasonable price tag. Keeping internet affordable has to be part of the equation and cutting the entirety of this tax gives companies every incentive to do so.”

Walczyk’s legislation to repeal the Fiber Optic Tax was the result of meeting with broadband companies, local governments and constituents in underserved parts of the 116th Assembly District who he was helping to obtain internet access. He learned that the tax was cited by companies as the number one cost driver behind why New York’s internet costs were higher than in other states, and also why it was so expensive to do business here in our state. The tax had long prevented otherwise shovel-ready broadband expansion projects from becoming realities. However, once the budget is signed into law, those projects could be ready this spring.