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Stew Lilker’s

Columbia County Observer

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Florida News

Governor Rick Scott vs. Big Bird

TALLAHASSEE, FL - Floridians across the state are wondering why their newly elected governor, Rick Scott, wants to clip Big Bird's wings. In the past 35 years, the legislature has appropriated funds for public television and radio. In the last session lawmakers approved $4.8 million, but Gov. Scott, a Republican, used his line-item veto to eliminate the funding, claiming public broadcasting was a "special interest."

Florida university student Anna Eskamani, co-founder of Keep PBS in Orlando, has 6,000 signatures on a petition urging the legislature to override the veto and restore the funds.

"PBS provides programming for all demographics, including the most vulnerable groups of people: You have children, you have those who cannot afford cable."

According to a recent New York Times article, if some funds are not restored, several Florida public radio and television stations may go dark, but managers of the local stations remain somewhat optimistic.

The cuts, set to go into effect in July, make up less than 10 percent of their budgets and they are still hopeful that lawmakers will reinstate the money and possibly override Scott's veto when they reconvene in January.

Eskamani is appalled that Scott tore up the check in the first place.

"There was a line-item veto, it was obviously haphazardly done and cutting that is just a terrible thing to do."

Public broadcasters have been under the funding gun, even at the national level. Recently, Republican members of congress sought to cut off appropriations for National Public Radio, citing "liberal bias." 

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