Justice proposes funding West Virginia Public Broadcasting

By The Associated press
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — Gov. Jim Justice has proposed continuing West Virginia Public Broadcasting’s $4.6 million state funding next year, reversing his February proposal to end it.
In a letter Thursday to the Legislature’s Republican leaders, the Democratic governor said his administration now projects $54 million of additional state revenue under his spending plan in the fiscal year that starts in July.
The cut would amount to roughly half of the public broadcasting budget, eliminating staff salaries. Meanwhile, President Donald Trump has proposed chopping Corporation for Public Broadcasting funding nationally, which would slice about $1.3 million given to West Virginia for maintaining 27 towers and other expenses. Its radio broadcasts reach about 90 percent of the state.
“Public Broadcasting is important to our state and our people, and I don’t want to see it disappear,” Justice said Friday. His administration is working with West Virginia University President Gordon Gee to transfer it from the state to the university, he said.
Foundation and private donations support its state television and radio programming. The West Virginia broadcaster’s board recently postponed deciding on 15 immediate layoffs.
Legislators are considering various cuts across the state government with some expected for public broadcasting.
Susan Hogan, chair of Friends of West Virginia Public Broadcasting, said the group is pleased with Justice’s action.
Earlier Friday, administration officials announced the recall of 15 foresters laid off last year, using fund transfers and position vacancies to fund them.
Division of Forestry Director Randy Dye said they play a critical role in sustaining state forests, including coordination with loggers.