Thursday, April 22, 2010

"It's the economy, stupid"

Remember that James Carville phrase from the Clinton-Bush 1992 presidential campaign? Well, for every phrase there is a season, and that phrase's season appears to have come around again. At least as far as public broadcasting's state funding is concerned.

Unless you've been hiding in a groundhog burrow for the past year or so, you're aware that Virginia is facing a 4 billion dollar budget deficit, and so in order to save 2.4 million over 4 years ($600 thousand for fiscal year 2011), Governor Bob McDonnell has proposed a budget amendment that cuts Community Service Grant (CSG) funding for public broadcasting.

To put this in perspective, what it means for WMRA is $85,000 dollars lost out of an annual budget of 1.2 million.

Tom DuVal, our fearless leader, sent out this update via e-mail this morning.
The House upheld the Governor's budget amendment that would institute the 4-year phase out of Community Service Grant (CSG) funding for public broadcasting, but rejected his amendment for elimination of funding for radio reading services (e.g. Valley Voice). The House also upheld his amendment to eliminate a one-time state tourism promotion grant that would have given us about $10,000, and which we would match 2-for-1 with free promotion.

The Senate rejected the 4-year CSG phase out and the tourism funding elimination.

My understanding is that the Governor can still exercise his line-item veto of any or all of the above. Expectations are that he won't veto the tourism or radio reading service items, but may veto the CSGs.
Ever since level-headed Martha Graham called me gently to task for posting a "yikes!" alert on the WMRA Facebook page, I have resisted any impulse to an alarmist reaction in my postings or blogs. It's not only cheap journalism, it's not helpful.

Also, don't look at me to scream "foul!" at Bob McDonnell. The budget cuts have to be made somewhere; he's our elected governor and so wielder of the line-item veto. He's perfectly entitled to do what he thinks is right.

And there's also this interesting point to consider, made yesterday on WMRA's Facebook page by Michele Russell Christopher:
I hate to say it, but we who know how good it is should contribute more, even twice as much. I don't believe that public broadcasting should be government funded. It takes away our credibility.
For what it's worth, here's my take on the situation:

However the state budget situation plays out, I have great faith in the WMRA community. I feel perfectly confident in paraphrasing Gloria Gaynor by saying, we will survive!

I bake a completely edible apple pie. Anyone for a really big bake sale????

1 comment:

  1. With a federal budget out of control and a serious state budget shortfall, it's hard to not look at all government spending as ill considered, but still there IS an important role for government investment. Part of government's role should be to affirm citizenship and democracy. While government probably shouldn't dictate what books are taught in schools, providing a forum for open discussion and a platform for in-depth reporting does inform citizenship. I would contend that some of government's best spent money is in shoring up the platform of public broadcasting. Whether one believes NPR leans left or right, anyone who listens regularly must admit that the difference between public broadcasting and it's commercial counterpart is dramatic and that exploring critical issues beyond the 30-second story is absolutely essential to democracy.