Earlier this month, public broadcasting survived an effort in the House to slash its state funding by half. Now, a subcommittee in the Senate has axed the appropriation entirely.
Mat-Su Republican Mike Dunleavy chairs the Department of Administration subcommittee, and he warned the cuts would be deep before announcing them at a Thursday meeting.
“There’s going to be a lot of good programs across the board that may not be funded,” Dunleavy said. “And as we go through this, it’s not necessarily a judgment on those programs, but it has to do with the fact that we may not have the money to pay for everything.”
Juneau Democrat Dennis Egan attempted to restore $5 million in funding to the budget proposal.
“I am a 45-year private sector broadcaster. I programmed, managed, and owned a bunch of private stations here in Southeast Alaska and in Anchorage,” Egan said. “And here I am, speaking up for public broadcasting, because I am not sure everyone realizes how much is going to be lost.”
Egan noted that the cuts would cause stations in Kodiak, Homer, Petersburg, Valdez, Haines, Ketchikan, Wrangell and Kenai to also lose their federal funding. He said rural communities could lose their emergency alert system, and that public television coverage of the Legislature would be threatened.
Egan’s amendment failed three to one, with all the Republican members voting against it.
The department budget will now be sent to the full Senate Finance Committee. If the cut holds there, the House will have to approve it or a compromise will have to be hammered out in a conference committee.