Battle Rages Over Proposed Cuts To Maine Public Broadcasting Funding
May 19, 2011 at 3:57 AM (PT)
The battle over MAINE Governor PAUL LE PAGE's proposal to defund the state's public broadcasters is coming down to the wire, with almost 30 people testifying this week against the proposal before the state legislature's Appropriations Committee.
LE PAGE has proposed cutting the $4 million appropriated for MAINE PUBLIC BROADCASTING NETWORK radio and television for the next two years starting JULY 1st, and the PORTLAND PRESS HERALD notes that the cut would represent almost 20% of the broadcaster's operating budget.
The last-minute cut, proposed a week ago, took MPBN by surprise, the broadcaster's VP/CFO JOHN ISACKE told the PRESS HERALD. "Believe me when I say that we were surprised and shocked by what transpired last WEDNESDAY," said ISACKE. "We thought we had completed the biennial appropriation cycle, only to find that at the eleventh hour we had to start anew."
Only one individual, MAINE TAXPAYERS UNITED Chairman MARK TUREK, testified in favor of the cuts, while the other witnesses opposed the move. "We won't shrink from a sincere discussion with the people of MAINE and their elected officials about the role of public broadcasting in their lives and how it should be funded," said MPBN Board of Trustees Chairman CRAIG DENEKAS. "However, a complete and immediate defunding of public broadcasting in MAINE, as currently proposed by the governor, precludes an ability even to entertain the discussion."