Supporters of West Virginia Public Broadcasting say the state governor’s proposed elimination of funding for the network, announced Wednesday, would force it to lay off up to 75 percent of its staff.
West Virginia Governor Jim Justice’s budget would zero out the state’s support of more than $4.6 million for the Educational Broadcasting Authority of West Virginia, the governing body of West Virginia Public Broadcasting. State funding made up about 42 percent of the authority’s total income in fiscal year 2016, according to an audit.
The reduction would also eliminate a $300,000 direct appropriation for WVPB’s nationally syndicated music show Mountain Stage.
“We believe this would be unwise and irresponsible,” said Susan C. Hogan, chair of the Friends of West Virginia Public Broadcasting, and Ted Armbrecht, chair of the West Virginia Public Broadcasting Foundation, in a statement Wednesday. “We understand the state needs to save money, but such a drastic and immediate cut threatens the very existence of our state’s PBS and NPR stations.”
The governor, a Democrat, is attempting to close a budget gap of almost $500 million through a tax increase and $26.6 million in budget cuts, which also included reduced support for public universities.
— David Folkenflik (@davidfolkenflik) February 9, 2017
“These proposed cuts are even more damaging because the Justice Administration did not consult anyone at West Virginia Public Broadcasting for advice,” Hogan and Armbrecht said in the statement.
WVPB’s state funding has declined steadily over the last decade, by a total of 21 percent since fiscal year 2009.
Supporters of WVPB took to Twitter to criticize the proposed cuts.
— LetsGoMountaineers (@TheCindyJackson) February 9, 2017
— William Matheny (@William_Matheny) February 9, 2017
— Andrew Springer (@springer) February 9, 2017
Also @wvpublic does an incredible job delivering the news. I relied on them a lot for info during the WV floods last year.
— Paige Lavender (@paigelav) February 9, 2017
— Mary Lauren (@MaryLWeimer) February 9, 2017