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Federal Funding

September 24, 2012

In addition to activity in reconciling the House and Senate funding for 2015, public broadcasting (and all other agencies) are subject to sequestration.  Should these spending cuts be implemented January 2, WPM stands to lose 8.2% of its federal appropriation.   A full report on how the Administration plans to implement the sequestration can be found below. 

On September 14, the Administration released its report,as required by Congress, on how it plans to implement the sequestration (across-the-board spending cuts), scheduled to begin in January. The cuts include an 8.2% ($36 million) reduction in CPB funding (see page 201 of the report).  The House, Senate and White House must still decide on a deficit reduction plan, or face the looming sequestration that is scheduled to take effect on January 2.

The House and Senate are in recess and lawmakers have returned home to campaign and meet with constituents through the November elections. Before leaving Washington, a continuing resolution (CR) to keep the government operating until March 27, 2013 was approved by both chambers and will be signed by the President. Funding for CPB for FY 2013 is $445 million.

A bipartisan group of senators, also known as the “Gang of Eight,” is trying to negotiate a roughly $55 billion debt “down payment” that would temporarily turn off automatic spending cuts. The group includes Saxby Chambliss (R-VA), Mark Warner (D-VA), Kent Conrad (D-ND), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Mike Crapo (R-ID), Tom Coburn (R-OK) and Lamar Alexander (R-TN). The down payment would provide Congress with six months to develop an alternative spending package and would be equal to about half of the scheduled cuts planned under sequestration next year

Update: September 24, 2012.

Though public broadcasting has been funded for 2013 and 2014, the new Congress will need to decide on 2015 appropriations to public broadcasting.  The Senate and House funding for 2015 is vastly different.  The Senate approved CPB funding at $445 million; The House spending bill phases out federal funding entirely by 2015, and prohibits stations from using federal tax dollars to purchase NPR programming or pay NPR dues.  More details about federal funding and sequestration can be found below:

FY 13 – 15 Appropriations

  • Leaders in the House and Senate have agreed to work on a six month continuing resolution (CR) that will keep the government operating at level funding from the start of the new fiscal year through April 1, 2013. 


  • When the new Congress convenes in January, the Members will have to grapple with how to handle the unfinished FY 2013 appropriations bills.  As a reminder, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved level funding for CPB at $445 million for FY 15. The House Labor, HHS Appropriations Subcommittee approved its spending bill which phases out CPB funding entirely by 2015. The bill also includes language that we’ve seen  in the past which prohibits stations from using CPB funds to pay for NPR programming, annual dues or support NPR in any other way. Any difference between the House and Senate will likely be resolved in March.

  • Congress also continues to deal with sequestration.   As part of the Budget Control Act that Congress passed in August, they attempted to address the federal deficit by setting a target of $2.1 trillion in federal savings over the next ten years through caps on discretionary and defense spending, and through automatic across-the-board cuts, or sequestration, split evenly between defense and non-defense spending beginning on January 2, 2013.Unless Congress acts this year to stop or replace them, the automatic cuts would trim spending by $109 billion from fiscal year 2013, which begins on October 1, 2012. Should sequestration go into effect, funding for public broadcasting, along with all other non-defense discretionary spending, would be subject to an across the board cut of roughly 8 percent ($36 million).

There is hopeful news about federal funding. On February 13, the President submitted his FY 2013 $3.8 trillion budget proposal to Congress. It contained a request for full funding – $445 million – for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB)’s FY 2015 two-year advance appropriation.

For over 30 years, CPB has received two-year advance appropriations, a practice we believe to be essential for stations’ continued autonomy in program decision-making and certainty in business planning. To date, CPB has retained level funding at $445 million for FY 2012, 2013, 2014, and now 2015 in the President’s proposed budget.

People often ask: What does a cut in federal funding mean to Wyoming Public media? Any cut in Wyoming Public Media’s federal funding is a blow. We currently receive a yearly $280,000 grant from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting to help fund our services. This comprises approximately 12% of our operating budget and provides funding for programming and services to the community as mandated by our license. This funding is critical to our operation, particularly now when a major federal grant program supporting equipment maintenance/replacement was eliminated. The PTFP (Public Telecommunications Facilities Program) helped finance the build out of public radio throughout all states and reaching Americans in the remotest areas. We counted on this grant program to provide matching funds for our equipment needs such as future tower replacements.

This has been a difficult year for federal funding for public broadcasting as well as for other non-profits. Our legislators are in deficit-cutting mode and understandably so, considering the nation’s overall deficit. At times like these, calls for elimination of federal funding to public broadcasting makes for an easy and high-profiled target for politicians.

We at Wyoming Public Media understand the need for shared sacrifice for the greater good of the nation, but we do urge our legislators to consider funding to public broadcasting judiciously and proportionately. A 12% cut to WPM is serious and affects services critical to the state. Total elimination of the $445 million investment to CPB would cripple the public broadcasting system millions of Americans depend on. Would it provide a powerful solution to the nation’s deficit problem? That is for every American to decide. Here are the numbers: total elimination of the $445 million investment in CPB represents a 3 ten-thousands of one percent reduction in the $1.5 trillion federal budget deficit.

In an interview last year Colin Powell said “You can’t fix the deficit or the national debt by killing NPR or National Endowment for the Humanities or the Arts. Nice political chatter, but that doesn’t do it.”

It’s our fiduciary responsibility to inform and update you on the status of federal funding, and to provide information about how to contact your Congressional representative to express your views.

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