Republicans on the Joint Finance Committee restore more than half of the governor’s proposed $5 million cut to the Educational Communications Board, which runs public television and radio, as well as public safety notices — such as the Amber alert — and other duties.
Senator Luther Olsen (R-Ripon), who serves on the governing board of the ECB, made the motion to reduce the amount of the controversial cut. “We’re gonna have to make some cuts. I understand that, but I believe we are doing the right thing by the citizens of the state of Wisconsin because it’s one of the gems we have in the state.”
Democrats on the panel, including Senator Jon Erpenbach (D-Middleton), tried to fully restore Governor Scott Walker’s cuts to ECB, because Public TV and radio is “who we are,” he said, “it connects us” from one corner of the state to the other. The broadcast network “is public; it’s ours.” Erpenbach stressed, “It’s Wisconsin’s Public Radio; it’s Wisconsin’s Public TV.” He told fellow panel members, “We, as Wisconsinites, own it and we should be supporting this to the best of our ability.”
Senator Lena Taylor (D-Milwaukee) calls Public TV and radio “the Schoolhouse Rock” of Wisconsin, referencing the popular Saturday morning children’s educational cartoon shorts of the 1970s and ’80s, which introduced kids to grammar, science, multiplication, money, and American history — in three-minute addictive singalong episodes.
Representative Dean Knudson (R-Hudson) said ECB should generate more revenue from fundraising and less from taxpayer dollars.
The Joint Finance Committee voted 12-4 to shave $2.6 million off the proposed cut, leaving a reduction of $2.3 million over the next two years.