OETA faces 23 percent cumulative cut in taxpayer support
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Published: 11-May-2010

By Patrick B. McGuigan

Published: 11-May-2010

Facing cumulative budget cuts of 23 percent, the leadership of the Oklahoma Educational Television Authority (OETA) is pleading with lawmakers, the governor and the general public to avoid further cuts in taxpayer support.

In a press release distributed at the state Capitol in Oklahoma City today (Tuesday, May 11) likely reductions in fiscal year 2011 appropriations were characterized as creating a “drastic” situation for OETA.

John McCarroll, executive director, said FY 2010 has been “very rough” for the agency, as it absorbed reductions of 14 percent in its operating budget from the state. “This has meant that the statewide network has $725,000 less to operate with than it did one year ago,” he said.

Possible, even likely, cuts of another 10 percent in FY 2011 would bring the cumulative reduction to 23 percent in the current two-year cycle, McCarroll said. He said new staff reductions would affect OETA programming like “Oklahoma News Report” and the “Stateline” series, and programs like “Movie Club.” McCarroll said OETA has “the lowest number of state employees of any comparable statewide network in the nation” and is recognized for efficiency.

Legislative leaders and the governor are still negotiating both budget cuts and potential moratoria or elimination of tax credits, as the state must appropriate with about $1.2 billion less than originally anticipated. Some combination of those elements could be blended with remaining federal stimulus dollars and most of the balance in the Constitutional Reserve (better known as the Rainy Day Fund) to reach a legally required balanced budget before the end of the session this month.

In a statement provided to CapitolBeatOK, McCarroll said: “We realize the Herculean task that state lawmakers face in meeting such a severe revenue shortfall, but sincerely hope and pray that OETA’s state appropriation cuts can be restored and/or kept at an absolute minimum.”

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