Community Enterprise and Communication Colleagues,

On March 10 the Illinois House Computer Technology Committee approved HB 3650 Integrated Telecom and Digital Literacy Act, including a provision to expand today's DCEO Eliminate the Digital Divide program into a full public-private Community Trust.  It is estimated that the expanded Community Network expansion and telecom community planning in low-income and regional areas will cost $11 million per year.  Almost of all of which needs to come from telecom providers and other parties, in an expanded model from Telecom Rewrite of 2001.

Yesterday, approximately 135 community technology centers from low income areas across the state filed grant applications to DCEO for the EDD program.  If $2 million in grants are made in June 05 from the remaining $3.7 million from 2001 act, and if a "sweep" of a portion of funds is taken as currently being proposed, then only about $1 million will remain.  It is imperative that the General Assembly act by the end of May on this.  I encourage your organization to (1) endorse HB 3650, (2) ask your House and Senate members to co-sponsor it, (3) work on a "fair formula" for $11 million per year in contributions, in addition to the need for DCEO to increase staffing for this program to 3 full time persons, and (4) contact CTCNet Chicago Debra Walker-Johnson 773-268-3600 to join in Tech Day in Springfield May 19 (education tech and community tech together). 

Layton Olson
Chair, Sustainability Committee, Illinois Community Technology Consortium