Kansas governor proposes to cut state aid to pubcasting

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback has proposed cutting state aid to public television and radio by 42 percent in the next two fiscal years. State policymakers allocated $1.04 million to Kansas pubcasters for fiscal 2013. Under the budget proposal unveiled by Republican Gov. Brownback Jan. 16, the total subsidy would drop to $600,000 annually in fiscal 2014 and 2015. Gov. Brownback has previously targeted for public broadcasting even deeper spending cuts: for fiscal 2012, he sought to completely eliminate state aid.

State aid down $85 million in four years

In four years that include the deepening recession, fiscal 2008 through 2012, public broadcasting stations in 24 states have lost a total of $85 million in financial support from state governments, according to a study released last week by Free Press, a progressive media-reform group. Those states reduced spending on public media by 42 percent of their 2008 amount. Free Press, which has joined the defense of federal and state aid to public media, gave the study a timely release date, one week before the congressional Super Committee’s Nov. 23 [2011] deadline to cut vast sums from the federal budget and deficit. “As federal lawmakers are considering making further cuts to public broadcasting nationally, we wanted to make sure they understood the full picture of public broadcasting in their states,” said Josh Stearns, co-author of the study and associate program director of Free Press.

Republican lawmakers preserve most funding for SCETV

South Carolina ETV avoided steep funding cuts last month as the state’s Republican-controlled legislature thwarted Gov. Nikki Haley’s attempt to eliminate two-thirds of state support for the pubcasting network. Haley had proposed cutting about $5.9 million of the $9 million that the state provides for SCETV, which makes up about half of the network’s budget. But lawmakers in both the House and Senate overrode Haley’s request in nearly unanimous votes June 29. In the end, only about 6 percent of the network’s budget was cut, according to SCETV spokesperson Rob Schaller. House Majority Leader Kenny Bingham angrily criticized Haley in a speech on the floor.