Lombardo tries to hog credit for Biden administration achievements (again) • Nevada Current

I’m pleased to announce the allocation of $250 million towards Middle Mile Infrastructure,” Nevada Gov. Joe Lombardo said in a statement released by his office this week. “This significant investment will enhance internet connectivity in communities across Nevada that have struggled with inadequate internet access. By addressing these critical gaps, we are ensuring that all Nevadans have the opportunity to benefit from reliable and fast internet service.”

“We” are ensuring? Who’s the “we”?

In other words, where did the $250 million come from?

The press release from Lombardo’s office left that part out.

Later in the press release, Lombardo’s office notes that the middle mile infrastructure – thousands of miles of fiber optic lines, basically – is part of a larger investment, and “Over the next four years, over $900 million will be dedicated to broadband infrastructure and digital equity and adoption initiatives.”

Where’s the $900 million coming from?

The statement from Lombardo’s office neglected to say.

Perhaps because everyone already knows.

Or should.

A presentation from the Governor’s Office of Science, Innovation and Technology (OSIT) indicates that of the $250 million Lombardo was “pleased” to announce this week, $87 million is provided by the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), more commonly known as the Bipartisan Infrastructure bill, introduced by the Biden administration and passed by Congress in November, 2021.

Despite the law’s bipartisan passage, only 13 members of the U.S. House of Representative who, like Lombardo, are Republicans, voted for the bill. Nevada’s Mark Amodei wasn’t one of them.

According to the U.S. Department of Treasury, another $74 million of the $250 million was also provided under the infrastructure bill. The OSIT presentation indicates that money was assigned to the capital projects fund under the American Rescue Plan Act. ARPA passed both houses of Congress in March, 2021 without a single Republican vote in either the House or the Senate.

Those two tranches of funding comprise about two-thirds of the $250 million. As for where the other third comes from, as of late Thursday neither the governor’s office nor OSIT could provide a detailed breakdown.

But during a legislative interim committee meeting last month, OSIT Director Brian Mitchell said there were several sources of broadband funding for Nevada – 12, to be exact, Mitchell said.

He provided legislators with a graphic to illustrate those 12 sources. 

Every one of them is federal:

A slide from the Governor’s Office of Science, Innovation and Technology illustrates comparative size of federal funding from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs (IIJA), commonly referred to as the Bipartisan Infrastructure act, the American Rescue Plan Act, and other federal programs paying for broadband development in Nevada.

As the size of the bubbles indicate, the overwhelming majority of broadband funding to be provided to Nevada is the result of either the bipartisan infrastructure bill or ARPA, one of which passed with only minority support from congressional Republicans and the other with no Republican support at all.

Lombardo must be torn.

It was only a few weeks ago Lombardo wrote Biden a letter demanding the president “embrace free market principles that rely on supply and demand and rein in excessive federal spending.”

So why doesn’t Lombardo reject all that federal spending provided – over Republican opposition – by the Biden administration and Democrats in Congress, and just let free market principles provide broadband to rural and other underserved communities? 

Yes, the free market has had decades to do that, and failed. But surely the free market will get around to it eventually, no matter how many more decades it takes, right? 

In the meantime, Lombardo could be at ease knowing he had adhered to his faith in free market principles.

But Lombardo contains multitudes.

Just a couple weeks after telling the president how to do his job and demanding that Biden rein in “excessive federal spending,” there Lombardo was, celebrating the groundbreaking of a high-speed train that has received $6.5 billion in federal grants and financing – again thanks to the bipartisan infrastructure bill that most members of Congress from Lombardo’s party opposed.

And this week he is “pleased to announce” all that federal funding for broadband.

For some reason Lombardo and his office did not feel obligated to tell the public where the broadband funding was coming from. Maybe his faith in free market solutions wouldn’t let him.

Nevada Democratic Sen. Jacky Rosen’s office issued a statement noting she helped include the $74 million for middle mile funding when the infrastructure law passed.

The Nevada media largely acquiesced to the governor’s narrative, however, reporting the press release from Lombardo’s office under Lombardo-friendly headlines like “Gov. Lombardo allocates $250 million to improve state internet infrastructure,” and “Lombardo announces $250 million for better internet to 40,000 Nevadans,” and even “Governor Lombardo Providing $250 million for Internet Access.”

This isn’t the first time Lombardo has claimed credit for the results of Biden administration policies. 

His political action committee is fond of touting how many straight months of employment growth have occurred “under Joe Lombardo’s leadership.” Lombardo’s PAC always neglects to note that all of those consecutive months of employment growth, in addition to about twice as many more, have occurred under Joe Biden’s leadership.

Construction of fiber optic networks to underserved/unconnected Nevada communities is indeed a development worth celebrating. 

But Lombardo, Steve Sisolak, your last ride share driver… federal broadband funding would be coming to Nevada no matter who the governor was.

So Nevadans who applaud broadband funding may want to consider saying something Lombardo should but won’t: Thanks, Biden.

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