Va. cuts PBS funding by $424K

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - Gov. Bob McDonnell got the last word in his quest to reduce funding for public radio and television, vetoing just one item in the voluminous state budget and signing everything else.

McDonnell's veto cuts $424,000 from government-subsidized radio and television stations that present artistic, cultural and public affairs and news programs such as Ken Burns' acclaimed "Civil War" series.

That pares state support for the stations from the $2.6 million the General Assembly approved this year to slightly more than $2.2 million in the original, two-year state budget adopted last year.

But that's still more than twice as much as the Republican governor wanted as part of his proposed phase-out of state funding for PBS stations in Virginia.

PBS, also under fire from Republicans in Congress as a tax-supported frill that a debt-ridden nation can no longer afford, is not a core government service, McDonnell said Tuesday in a release explaining his veto.

"In today's free market, with hundreds of radio and television programs, government should not be subsidizing one particular group of stations," McDonnell said. "We must get serious about government spending."

In his mid-term adaptations to the biennial budget that McDonnell submitted to lawmakers in December, he proposed cuts totaling $957,871, nearly half of what public broadcasting was to receive for the fiscal year.

The General Assembly balked. Budget revisions the GOP-controlled House and the Democratic-ruled Senate passed in this year's regular session and sent to McDonnell in February boosted PBS funding to about $2.6 million.

McDonnell amended the line item, reducing the total by more than $1.6 million, leaving total state appropriations to public broadcasting at slightly less than $1 million.

The House accepted the governor's amendment, but the Senate refused.

Without a two-thirds vote in both chambers to reject the governor's line-item amendment, the state Constitution allows McDonnell to veto it after-the-fact, leaving the appropriation as it was passed in 2010, but wiping out this year's proposed funding increase.