Monday, May 11, 2015

Another budget gap to fill- Wisconsin Public Broadcasting

And leaving out funding for the Milwaukee Child Welfare Bureau isn't the only budgeting error from the Walker group that may have to be fixed by the Joint Finance Committee this week. Take a look at the screw-ups the Legislative Fiscal Bureau found in the budget for Wisconsin Public Television and Wisconsin Public Radio- which is funded through the Educational Communications Board (ECB).
The Executive Budget Book indicated that the 12.0 GPR positions that would remain at ECB under the Governor's proposal should support Amber alert and other transmission functions. However, the GPR funding and positions provided in the Governor's budget bill would be insufficient to fund the field engineering department, which is responsible for maintaining and operating the broadcast interconnect, and the operations center, which transmits EAS and Amber alert messages, at their current levels. If the Committee wishes to maintain GPR funding at its current level for the field engineering department and the operations center, the Committee could provide $1,795,200 GPR annually and 16.0 positions through ECB's general program operations appropriation. This would be $453,100 annually and 4.0 positions more than provided under the Governor's bill. This alternative would provide no funding for ECB's administrative division.
Yes, because why would our government need to care about broadcasts to tell people about weather emergencies and missing children? (#headdesk).

Oh, and remember this line of thinking that the WisGOPs tried to pull when the cuts to Wisconsin Public Broadcasting were announced three months ago?
Walker spokeswoman Laurel Patrick has defended the proposed cuts, saying the state must make choices to balance the budget and that public broadcasting can raise the money to support itself.

"We estimate that the ECB will be able to make up the difference in program revenue through grants, gifts and donations," Patrick said.
Robin Vos's spokesperson said the same thing. And the LFB says both of them are wrong.
The Governor's budget bill would reduce funding for ECB by $2,484,200 GPR annually and delete 15.8 GPR positions and increase ECB's appropriation for gifts, grants, contracts, leases, instructional material, and copyrights and the number of positions authorized for that appropriation by the same amount. Based on ECB's expenditure data, which shows that program revenue expenditures have increased by an annualized rate of 4% over the most recent five years, it is unlikely that ECB would be able to generate an additional $2,484,200 PR, which would be equal to an increase of 24.5% over the 2013-14 level, in each year of the biennium. If program revenue expenditures were to increase by 4% annually during the current year and in each year of the 2015-17 biennium, these expenditures could exceed the 2013-14 level by $828,000 in 2015-16 and by $1,267,000 in 2016-17. These amounts are less than the increase in program revenues proposed by the Governor by $1,656,200 in 2015-16 and by $1,217,200 in 2016-17. If the Governor's proposal were to be approved and ECB were unable to increase program revenues by the specified amounts, it would have to substantially reduce its operations.

So yet again, this is a backdoor budget cut where Walker didn't have the guts to play it straight, and now the Joint Finance Committee has to come up with nearly $3.7 million tomorrow to cover this gap, or else Wisconsin's public broadcasting and emergency communications are slated to take a legitimate hit.

They're so responsible and honest with these numbers at the Capitol, aren't they? Scotty isn't even in the country as this is being figured out. Nice "governance."

1 comment:

  1. And here's what JFC did. They added in the $900,000+ for the emergency alert items, but it looks like they're going to go with the "assume a massive increase in donations" theory on the PR side (which likely won't happen).

    Onto the main houses to see if the rest of the money gets restored.