Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback (R) has proposed reducing state funding for public broadcasting by $100,000 for fiscal year 2016, a 16 percent cut from this fiscal year.
Brownback’s proposed budget calls for a two-part reduction in funding that would cut state support by $12,000 this fiscal year, to $600,000, and then to $500,000 for fiscal years 2016 and 2017.
Eugene Williams, c.e.o. of KTWU-TV in Topeka, was not surprised by the proposed cut, since Brownback has consistently opposed state funding of public broadcasting. Williams had already adjusted his station’s budget to prepare for cuts in state support. KTWU’s received $50,000 in state funds this fiscal year, down from a high of $300,000 in previous years.
“I saw the writing on the wall four years ago,” Williams said. “The governor has been consistent in saying there were things he didn’t see as being core parts of government. I think he would say public media is meaningful and important but is not something state government should be funding.”
“Knowing that revenue for the state is down and the governor has been looking for cuts I think it’s positive the funding is in there,” said Michael Quade, c.e.o. of Smoky Hills Public Television in Bunker Hill, Kan. “And we’re thankful for what we get.”
For the first time, Brownback also proposed that the state’s $500,000 in support would go only to stations in Kansas. If passed, that provision would affect KCPT in Kansas City, Mo., which sits on the Missouri side of the border but reaches into Kansas.
Kliff Kuehl, c.e.o. of KCPT, was surprised to learn of the change and said he planned to fight the proposal. Kansas’s support for KCPT amounted to $43,500 this fiscal year, less than 1 percent of the station’s operating budget. But the support has recognized the border station’s service to Kansas residents with localized programming and news coverage, Kuehl said.
“We’re located in Missouri, but we serve probably more Kansans than any of the other stations in Kansas,” Kuehl said. “We don’t want to cause a problem for the other stations, but we would like to get the funding if we can.”