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Public Broadcasting Could Face Significant Cuts In State Funding

Supporters of public broadcasting are concerned this could be the year that state funding for public radio and broadcast stations ends in Kansas.

Gov. Sam Brownback's budget recommendation for the next fiscal year includes $600,000 for public broadcasting, down from $3.8 million in 2008. But some lawmakers consider public broadcasting a target for further cuts at a time when the state budget is stretched to cover such things as public schools and social services, The Kansas City Star reported.

A House committee voted earlier this year to drop the $600,000 subsidy but a Senate budget committee agreed with Brownback and allocated the subsidy for the coming year. Lawmakers returned to work Wednesday for a wrap-up session.

"I'm worried about it," said Rep. Don Hineman, a western Kansas Republican who supports funding for public broadcasting.

Other lawmakers are not convinced state funds should go to public stations.

"I don't care if PBS exists," said Rep. Virgil Peck, a Tyro Republican. “I’m just not in favor of taxpayer dollars going to fund something that can do its own fundraising and competes against private industry.”

Public broadcasters say they have already cut staff, trimmed educational outreach efforts and are using cheaper programming, and they are working to increase private funding. A drop in public funding would require even more changes.

"Will it all go away? Probably not," said Janet Campbell, station manager for Kansas Public Radio. "Will it be as reliable and strong? No."

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