Virginia Gov. McDonnell proposes to zero-out state aid to pubcasting

After using a line-item veto this spring to trim state funding for Virginia’s public broadcasting stations, Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell has proposed to completely eliminate the subsidies. McDonnell’s first biennial budget, unveiled on Dec. 19, would cut $3.6 million in annual appropriations for Virginia’s public television and radio stations and their educational telecommunications services. The total reduction over two years, 2013-14, would be $7.2 million.

David Mullins, president of WVPT in Harrisonburg, plans to appeal to state lawmakers to reject McDonnell’s proposal. “[W]e will make our case with the General Assembly for funding the unique and valued services WVPT and our public broadcasting partners throughout Virginia provide,” he said in a statement provided to the Washington Post. “We understand that in this environment, the Governor has some tough decisions to make. However, this complete elimination of funding will have a direct impact on teachers, students and schools.”

In budget wrangling earlier this year, McDonnell proposed to cut state aid to pubcasters by 50 percent, but the 2012 budget later approved by Virginia lawmakers preserved most of the funding. That’s when Gov. McDonnell used his veto pen to reduce pubcasting funds even more.

When the General Assembly convenes its next legislative session in January, lawmakers can amend or completely ignore Gov. McDonnell’s proposal; but, as the Washington Post reports, McDonnell’s chances for influencing the budget process have improved.

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