Public broadcasters in Minnesota could lose millions in state support for arts and cultural heritage programs under a proposal floated by Republicans in the statehouse. The Minnesota Legacy Fund, financed through a sales tax increase that Minnesota voters approved in 2008, awarded $11.6 million to the state’s public broadcasters and community radio stations in its first two years. Republican lawmakers in the House want to end direct Legacy funding to specific organizations such as Minnesota Public Radio and adopt a competitive grant-making process. The Minneapolis Star-Tribune reports that conservative lawmakers object to monies earmarked for MPR, which received $2.6 million in the last biennial funding cycle.
Another target: science fiction writer Neil Gaiman, whose $45,000 speaking fee for a four-hour appearance backed by the Legacy Fund angered House Majority Leader Matt Dean. The Republican lawmaker told the Strib that he hates Gaiman and described him as “pencil-necked little weasel.” Gaiman reacted on his blog, disputing the amount of his compensation and comparing Dean to a school-yard bully. Dean has apologized.