As a member of an electric cooperative himself, Sen. John Boozman understands the unique role that co-ops play in their communities and has been a strong advocate on key issues, including the need to bring broadband to rural residents.
The Arkansas Republican, a member of Carroll Electric Cooperative in northwest Arkansas, is a lead sponsor, with Sens. Tina Smith, D-Minn., and John Hoeven, R-N.D., of the Flexible Financing for Rural America Act. The legislation, which was reintroduced in March, would save electric cooperatives more than $10 billion by allowing them to reprice loans from the Rural Utilities Service at current low interest rates without penalty.
“Senator Boozman recognizes the needs and challenges facing rural Arkansas, and he understands the role that electric cooperatives play in helping to overcome these hurdles,” says Kirkley Thomas, vice president of governmental affairs at the Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas. “He and his staff are so aligned with us that when I reach out to them about an issue, they are usually already on it and working on our behalf.”
Boozman says his focus on rural broadband has been sharpened by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Arkansans were forced to work and learn remotely, but for residents of rural communities, continuing to operate virtually has proven to be extremely difficult,” he says. “We need to do what is necessary to help citizens thrive in the 21st century economy. That means strengthening rural infrastructure to close the existing digital divide.”
Boozman applauds co-ops for their “history of pushing America forward.”
“From their earliest days helping to bring electricity to all corners of rural America, they are a shining example of what can be achieved when we work together,” the senator says. “The success of electric cooperatives demonstrates the ingenuity and innovation that make our country great and enables us to reach new heights. Arkansans understand the vital role co-ops play in meeting our state’s power needs, so it’s been very important for me to support them because of how interconnected their success is to our state’s overall growth and advancement.”