Q&A with Governor John Carney on Health Equity Initiatives in Delaware

Delaware has recently made a concerted effort to address important issues that affect human and health equity. These initiatives focus on the opportunity for broadband Internet access and new standards for clean water to ALL Delawareans. 

It’s Time sat down with Governor Carney to hear about the implications of President Biden’s American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) and Delaware State House Bill 200.

But first, let’s get some background on ARPA and House Bill 200.

What is ARPA?

The American Rescue Plan Act was signed into law in March of 2021 by President Joe Biden with the goal to provide direct relief to Americans and their families. The act also stabilizes and boosts the economy in each state.

What is House Bill 200?

House Bill 200 was signed into law this past July 2021, and changes the code of standards for water in Delaware pertaining to swimming, drinking, and aquatic life.

Governor Carney was excited to chat with It’s Time about what these initiatives mean for Delaware.

On Broadband Internet and ARPA: 

A map of Delaware’s proposed service provider expansion

Q: How did the passing of the ARPA by President Biden lead to a universal broadband investment from the state (the first of its kind in the nation!)?

Gov. Carney: Delawareans rely on stable internet connections to apply for jobs, help their children do homework, work from home, or continue their education online. Thanks to the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) signed into law by President Biden, we are making significant investments to recognize that reality, and make sure all Delaware families have access to high-speed broadband service. 

Q: Before the ARPA, was Delaware already working towards investing in Broadband? 

Governor Carney: Over the last two years, Delaware has been working to eliminate internet deserts and make high-speed internet a reality for all Delawareans. We previously launched a wireless broadband initiative to get folks connected, and CARES Act funding helped us build out that additional broadband infrastructure, identify areas where we need to improve internet speeds, and eliminate barriers so that Delaware families can have quality internet. We are making sure that Delaware homes and businesses will have high-speed, wireline broadband service.

Q: What was a key decision driver to invest in the state’s Broadband initiative?

Governor Carney: A reliable internet connection is needed to further education, acquire new skills, and compete in an economy that is evolving every day. My most important job as Governor is to make sure that Delaware has a strong, growing, and competitive economy. That’s why it’s been important for us to expand access to high-speed broadband service across our state. We know that’s more important than ever after the lessons we’ve learned during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Q: How do you anticipate this initiative directly impacting the lives of Delawareans across the age spectrum?

Governor Carney: More and more, applying for a job, or recruiting talented employees for your business, taking a college course, reading a book, and helping your kids with homework are tasks that Delawareans are completing online. Now more than ever, we know how essential reliable internet is for daily life— whether it’s for remote learning, working, telehealth services, or connecting with family. 

On Water Quality and House Bill 200: 

Q: House Bill 200 creates a standardized procedure for measuring and improving water quality in Delaware. What sparked the need for this conversation and subsequent development of HB 200?

Governor Carney: All Delawareans deserve clean drinking water. Delaware’s waterways are also an important driver of our $7 billion coastal economy – from fishing, boating and recreation, to our $3.5 billion tourism economy. The Clean Water for Delaware Act and our new Clean Water Trust will help us deliver on that promise. 

Q: How do you anticipate this initiative directly impacting the lives of Delawareans across the age spectrum?

Governor Carney: House Bill 200 and unprecedented investment, which had bipartisan support, will help us protect our waterways for future generations of Delawareans, and upgrade our infrastructure to make sure all Delaware families have access to clean drinking water. Part of this effort includes a Clean Water Initiative for underserved communities. Our Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC) has started working with low-income, underserved communities and has funding available to help protect public health with clean public drinking water in addition to upgraded wastewater treatment opportunities. 

On Overall Impact:

Q: How does the Broadband Internet (ARPA) and Clean Water initiative (House Bill 200) combined position Delaware as a leader in health equity for its citizens?

Gov. Carney speaks about Delaware’s commitment to investing in Broadband

Governor Carney: Families across our state deserve to know that the water coming out of their faucets is clean. They also rely on stable internet connections to apply for jobs, help their children do homework, work from home, or continue their education online.  We’re making sure all Delaware families have access to high-speed broadband service. We are targeting investments to areas currently unserved or underserved and lacking a wireline connection. We also are prioritizing projects that achieve “last mile” connections to households and businesses. These infrastructure investments have a focus on equity. They are about closing the gaps, so all Delaware families have access to basic resources to improve health and to succeed in the Delaware.

Q: The Broadband and Clean Water initiatives create an even “playing field” for our state’s citizens to thrive. What is next for Delaware’s citizens?

Governor Carney: This is a historic investment that will make a big difference in the lives of Delawareans, in our economy, and in our environment. Taking care of our environment is one of the most important obligations we have as elected officials. Delaware is the country’s lowest-lying state, and climate change is already having a very real impact. We released our Climate Action Plan, a which is a roadmap for how the state can prepare for climate change in the years ahead. We need to do more to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to make our communities and infrastructure more resilient. 

Find out more information about the American Rescue Plan Act by clicking here. 

Find out more information about House Bill 200 by clicking here.

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