Technology has the power to transform our lives, to fundamentally reshape how we communicate, learn, work, and play. As Montanans, we cherish our independence, and it's precisely because we are a rural state that we need to take advantage of both developmental and existing technologies that will make it easier for us to communicate and do business around the country and around the world.
New communications technologies are bringing economic opportunities to our state, and I'm working to develop a system to ensure that we can take full advantage of these opportunities. As chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, I have the rare opportunity to craft the U.S. tax code to provide incentives for technological innovation and development. I'm committed to narrowing the digital divide and bringing more high-paying technology jobs to our state.
Access to high-speed internet is critically important. Broadband access to the internet significantly impacts the economic development of rural America. It is a crucial catalyst for economic recovery, creating jobs and enhancing our global competitiveness. By providing high-speed internet access to places that only have dial-up connections currently available, we can help revitalize the rural areas, and help rural America keep up with its urban counterparts. When we passed the Jobs Bill in 2009, I supported $6.875 billion in grants and loans to extend broadband networks farther into rural areas. This funding has the potential to provide the upgrades and expansion of broadband technology in rural Montana that will spur continuing economic development.