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Posted at 2:22 PM ET, 12/15/2010

McDonnell proposes ending taxpayer support for public broadcasting

By Anita Kumar
Anita Kumar

Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) proposed ending taxpayer funding of public broadcasting in Virginia on Wednesday, slashing $4 million over the next two years as part of $35 million in budget cuts.

McDonnell proposed cutting $2 million in fiscal 2012 and another $2 million in fiscal 2013.

"Public broadcasting is a wonderful resource, providing quality programming that is cherished by many,'' McDonnell said in a statement. "However, in our modern media world there are thousands upon thousands of content providers operating in the free market. They compete with each other, and viewers and listeners have their choice as to what to tune into or turn on. Simply put, it doesn't make sense to have some stations with the competitive advantage of being funded by taxpayer dollars. The decision to eliminate state funding of public broadcasting is driven by the fundamental need to reestablish the proper role of government, and budget accordingly."

McDonnell made a similar proposal in the spring, but the Democratic-controlled Senate killed the idea. The issue one is likely to get a lot of attention during the 2011 session as Democrats are again likely to oppose it and McDonnell can use it as a bargaining chip to get other bills and proposals he wants.

McDonnell also proposed saving money by:

  • Taking advantage of low interest rates for bonds ($24 million)
  • Saving money through declining check volume, reducing costs of electronic communications, renegotiate banking services contracts at the treasury department ($297,000)
  • Eliminating four vacant positions in Department of Forestry ($420,000)
  • Continuing agency-wide restrictions in the Department of Health on discretionary on spending, travel and hiring, saving ($1.4 million)
  • Expanding Medicaid managed care programs ($3.5 million)
  • Vacancy savings across Department of Conservation and Recreation ($250,000)
  • Administrative savings at Department of Social Services ($1 million)

"In these tough economic times, families and businesses are making difficult decisions every day,'' McDonnell said. "They are determining what is a luxury and what is a necessity, and budgeting accordingly. Governments must do the same."

McDonnell will announce a complete list of all his amendments to the two-year budget Friday. That announcement will include cuts to help offset additional spending that he has proposed, including $50 million for economic development, $50 million for higher education and $150 million for transportation.

By Anita Kumar  | December 15, 2010; 2:22 PM ET
Categories:  Anita Kumar, General Assembly 2011, House of Delegates, Robert F. McDonnell, State Senate  
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