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McDonnell's proposed budget cuts to public broadcasting include education

Anita Kumar

Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) is asking legislators to slash $2.2 million in state aid to public TV and radio when they return to the state Capitol Wednesday for their one-day reconvene session.

But broadcasters statewide are trying to persuade legislators that funds should not be cut. Most of the state's money for public TV is used to teach children in public schools, broadcasters say.

McDonnell is recommending trimming money from two funds -- but only one is earmarked for education, according to the governor's office. He is proposing cutting more than $1.6 million from an account designed to pay for education over two years and nearly $600,000 from another to pay for programming in the second year of the two-year budget (keeping $1.9 million the first year and $1.3 million the second year).

McDonnell spokeswoman Stacey Johnson said the governor had to make some difficult choices, including cutting aid to education.

"Due to a historic $4.2 billion budget shortfall, and because of the growing educational programming options on cable and through the internet, the Governor had to set priorities and make some tough decisions,'' she said.

Broadcasters say that prior budget cuts have forced them to use both pots of money for education and that TV and radio programs are primarily funded by donations.

Bert Schmidt, president and CEO of WHRO in Hampton Roads, said in an interview that he's very disappointed with McDonnell's recommendations and wants to believe that the governor's staff is confused about what they are cutting.

"They are not impacting TV shows and radio shows, they're impacting education,'' he said.

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Schmidt's stations offers online classes to all Hampton Roads public schools. The main program is funded though a different contract with the state this is not impacted by these cuts, though his other educational programs are.

Schmidt was invited to Lynchburg earlier this month when McDonnell signed a bill promoting virtual schools -- a major push for the new Republican governor.

The General Assembly returns to the state Capitol for the one-day session to consider McDonnell's (R) proposed amendments to 123 bills, including the state budget.

A third amendment on public broadcasting would no longer direct state officials to provide $200,000 over the next two years to the Virginia Association of Public Television and Radio to promote tourism.

By Anita Kumar  |  April 21, 2010; 9:08 AM ET
Categories:  Anita Kumar , General Assembly 2010 , House of Delegates , Robert F. McDonnell , State Senate  | Tags: Bob McDonnell, Hampton Roads, Television, Virginia  
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Comments

Edjimication? Whassat?

Posted by: Anglo_Rider | April 21, 2010 1:26 PM | Report abuse

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