UPDATED - See Below.
TOPEKA, Kan. - Buried in the 2011 Budget passed by the Kansas Legislature last week is a cut of 50% to the public radio and television stations in Kansas.
The Kansas House included a $903,161 cut in the annual budget allocation for public radio and television. The 50% cut affects stations statewide but has particular impact on stations in the western portion of the state, where the state funding represents a larger portion of the budget.
High Plains Public Radio (HPPR) has told its listeners that the station will see a cut of more than $120,000. Being that we are the doorstep of the new fiscal year, HPPR had already budgeted to receive the same allocation as they had in 2010.
For High Plains and the other public stations these cuts are drastic, without precedent, and threaten each public broadcasting station's ability to bring high-quality, independent, informative programs the state.
HPPR reports on their website: "With only five months left in our fiscal year, it will be nearly impossible to raise that kind shortage from membership and underwriting. The cuts are equivalent to the budget for NPR programming ($65,000) plus two of the station's 10 full-time staff positions ($60,000)."
Conservatives have a long history of opposing funding to public radio and television which they perceive as "being too liberal." So it is not surprising that they would make this attempt.
Worst yet is that the funds cut from public radio and television will be reallocated to the Kansas Commission on Veterans Affairs to make up for cuts the commission endured last year when the legislature failed to address the economic crisis forcing the state to cut over a billion dollars from the budget.
Supporters of public radio and television are being encouraged to contact Gov. Mark Parkinson and urge him to use his line-item veto to prevent this cut from happening.
The Governor can be contacted at: 1-877-579-6757; or via e-mail at the following link:
May 30, 2010 - UPDATE
Governor Parkinson used his line-item veto to remove the cut Rep. Virgil Peck, R-Tyro, tried to impose on Public Radio and Television in the state by diverting $900,000 to the Kansas Commission on Veterans Affairs.
In his reasoning for using the line-item veto, Parkinson told reporters that the cut amounted to a 50 percent reduction in operating grants for public broadcasting stations in Kansas.
Contrary to the views expressed by Rep. Virgil, the budget for veterans services will increase 30 percent over current levels. What other state agency is seeing such an increase?
For a complete review of the Governor's line-item veto work, see Barbara Hollingswoth's article, Gov carves out line-item vetoes, in the May 27th Capitol Journal.