Public television gets slashed in budget

By Ryan Nobles - bio | email
Posted by Terry Alexander - email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) – The General Assembly is in town, taking up a long list of amendments sent down by Governor Bob McDonnell. Both houses are still haggling over the details.

This process has been moving at a glacial pace, and even though most of the measures have passed, both parties want to get their opinions in on almost every topic.

One issue that was met with very vigorous debate was the future of public television. In tight budget times, everything is on the table. Everything, including Big Bird and Elmo.

Governor Bob McDonnell sent down two separate budget amendments that took funding from public television. One would begin the process of stripping funding for the organization completely. The other would divert $200,000 from the state tourism fund that was to be used to promote Virginia vacations.

"It doesn't reduce the number if you will of how we are going to promote tourism. It just takes out the language that dealt with dedicating a portion for public TV and radio," said Del. Steve Landes.

Democrats argued public TV serves an important purpose. In particular because of the lack of comprehensive coverage of Virginia state government.

"The media room used to be filled with correspondents covering the General Assembly. If you go down there now it is pretty much a ghost town," said Jennifer McLellan.

But republicans say that the state simply doesn't have enough money to fund public broadcasting.

"The governor as I've mentioned has got his bite at the apple and he has determined that this is appropriate," Landes said.

The measure passed the House, but still must meet the muster of the Senate, controlled by democrats. Some senate leaders have indicated that they may defeat the amendment.

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