MPBN to lose $4,000,000 in state subsidy monies over the next biennium. Governor LePage has had a rocky history in his short 4 months in office and MPBN is just another casualty of his controversial legacy. He had many contentious meetings with MPBN reporters over the last few months, but claims this cut has nothing to do with that. Governor LePage is expected to completely cut their subsidy to help close this $164 million dollar gap and use this funding for other essential programs.
Many of us have grown up watching shows like Mr. Rogers Neighborhood, Captain Kangaroo, Sesame Street, Barney, and the list goes on and on. We have stations like MPBN to thank for that and now a generation may be losing this commodity so the Governor can continue to offer $200,000,000 in tax breaks to wealthy people while the poor once again take it in the chops.
MPBN is a window for our children to experience cultures all over the world without having to leave the living room. Not to mention all the educational programming that are offered only on stations like this. Many kids will not get to see the shows we all grew up on all so we can close a $164 million dollar gap in a budget with $200 million in tax breaks on the other side. Doesn’t anyone else see the irony here?
MPBN uses the state subsidy money to be able to pay for 5 television transmission stations and seven radio transmitters that carry news, special programming and STATE EMERGENCY ALERT MESSAGES!!! This underfunding takes away the 20 percent of the budget that pays for these towers and transmitters which incidentally is the only thing they can do with the state money. State money comes with strings attached preventing them from using the money to pay for salaries or programming.
There are people all over rural Maine who no longer can get television signals since the changeover to digital programming who rely heavily on MPBN to bring them news and other information they used to rely on their TV for. This cut is short sighted, detrimental to a generation of children and clearly targeted by the LePage administration as the timeliness and haste of this decision proves.
Speakers came from all parts of the state to stand in opposition to this cutting of the funding for what many of them called critical programming. One woman who spoke from Deer Isle could not understand why anyone would even think of reducing funding for such a service. The one thing most of them agreed upon is that MPBN offers unique, commercial free educational and cultural programming found no where else.
Adam Lee of Lee Auto Malls said,”Maine has a long history of supporting culture. Our government supports museums, libraries, schools, parks, recreational programs, even public theater. MPBN is all of them wrapped up into one.”
The numbers were there in Augusta to support keeping these stations alive that are carried by MPBN and only one person spoke in favor of the cuts. That was Mark Turek who is the chairman of the board of directors of the organization Maine Taxpayers United.
Governor LePage should be ashamed of himself for taking the liberties of a $200,000,000 tax break in the same budget that he robs a generation of essential programming offered statewide to people who in many cases have nothing else. Especially the children who rely on this network of stations for shows like Sesame Street, Dora the Explorer and more. Farewell Big Bird and friends. That is my opinion and I welcome yours.