Details demanded on E-Rate subsidy.

Two powerful U.S. congressmen last week sent Federal Communications Commission chief William Kennard a pointed letter demanding more details on the FCC's plans to pay for the $2 billion E-Rate educational technology subsidy program.

House Commerce Committee chairman Rep. Tom Bliley (R-Va.) joined Rep. W.J. "Billy" Tauzin (R-La.) in a letter taking aim at Kennard's announcement earlier this month that he planned to push for full funding of the E-Rate program, which Congress cut in half last year.

"We still have serious concerns with the merits of this $1 billion tax increase and particularly its impact on consumers. In light of your efforts to increase taxes by $1 billion, now is an appropriate time for the FCC to provide the committee with some critical information," the May 13 letter says.

The congressmen want a list of tax collections from consumers by state during the first E-Rate cycle. Then, FCC staff should prepare a list of funds disbursed to each state during the same period, they said. The Commerce Committee also is interested in the distribution between E-Rate funds geared toward urban and rural areas and itemized expenses, including those used to fund the Universal Service Administrative Co., which administers the program.

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