Letter to the Editor
On the news it was reported that the legislature, in their infinite wisdom, has seen fit to cut the budget for Public Broadcasting by a mere $500,000. This sizable cut in funding will turn off transmitters for Public Television in all of northwestern South Dakota and a good share of northcentral South Dakota. Apparently the powers that be in Pierre do not care about a good one-third of the state.
Earlier this session they saw fit to pick up the tab for the 2005 State Fair deficit to the tune of $994,000 then fund them for the 2006 Fair to the tune of an additional $750,000. While I am not saying the State Fair should not be funded, I am saying that it seems a bit unbalanced. The Fair should be in a position to offset their funding by ticket sales and vending licenses. Public Broadcasting does not have that option, only charitable donations and grants. Most grants have to be matched by other funds. A $500,000 cut in state funds seriously jeopardizes the match for grant funding. It is sort of like cutting off your nose to spite your face.
Public TV serves schools, day cares, adult education, extension services, health education, and many other beneficial and educational needs that are not served by any other agency. Public Radio serves those who enjoy an alternative to the main media music, talk shows, and commentaries. Actually Public Radio and TV keep the people of South Dakota abreast of what is going on in the legislature during the session. Could that be the reason they are having their funding slashed? Did they inadvertently step on someone’s sacred toes? This devious act by the legislature was handed down in a last minute budget bill amendment made by Senator Greenfield, District 6, Clark, SD and seconded by Senator Early, District 12, Sioux Falls, on February 28. This action no doubt blind-sided the few legislators who represent the sparse areas of the state that will be the brunt of this hatchet job.
What can we do? Call your state legislators and demand that all the state be able to benefit from SDPBS, not just the populous areas of the east and southeast. Let your voice be heard. You pay the taxes to support state government, let them know you don’t agree with the way they spend your money. E-mail Senators Greenfield and Early, firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com. Also e-mail your own district legislators. Or you can call the senate floor and leave them a message on the last day of the session, March 20, at 605-773-3821.
/s/ Karen Englehart