It's been a few months, but it's come up again. Governor LePage, in a town hall meeting at Oxford Hills High School, said that funding for the Maine Public Broadcasting Network is a form of corporate welfare that the state can no longer afford. This isn't the first time he has tried to cut funding to MPBN, as he attempted to cut $4 million during the last year, which represent total funding for two years. “Why should I pay welfare to a company?” he said. “It’s that simple. I need that money to pay welfare. I need the (money) to make sure some elderly don’t freeze. Quite frankly, ma’am, I think that’s more important.”
While I don't disagree with his sentiment about paying LIHEAP funds, he's being disengenious, at best. As he typically does, he is passing this off as an either/or scenario. It is not, especially when his new budget proposal contains about $38 million worth of tax cuts and new spending. Also, let's look at the numbers. We are talking about a total of $1.7 million. This equals $1.30 per person. This isn't a tax increase of $1.30, this is a continuation of all of us paying $1.30. This is, litterally, pocket change.
Now, let's take a look at the "corporate welfare" portion of the comment made by Governor LePage. According to the dictionary, corporate welfare is financial assistance, as tax breaks or subsidies, given by the government to profit-making companies, especially large corporations. Correct me if I am wrong, but didn't LePage just sign into law LD 1735, which provides sales tax exemptions to bus companies? I'm not arguing against giving tax breaks to companies, if they are directly tied to the creation of new, well paying jobs, as they are intended to do, but isn't that corporate welfare? I mean, that fits the exact definition of corporate welfare.
I'm not sure how public broadcasting has become considered a Liberal media outlet, but that is often the idea put forward by many on the right side of the aisle. Now, if you want to hear things from a perspective of one side or the other, it isn't going to happen with public broadcasting. I've heard a lot of people complain that they often cut away to hear press conferences from the White House. Well, this actually makes sense. Don't we want to hear about what is going on, no matter who inhabits 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue? Yes, you hear from President Obama often, but that is because he is the President. When George W Bush was President, they did the same thing. Democrats listen to public radio, and watch public television, and so do Republicans. This isn't, and shouldn't be a partisan issue.
I'm sure this isn't going to pass, much like it didn't the last time, but I'm anxious to hear what others have to say about it. Again, this isn't something that is bankrupting the state. It costs us less than a cup of coffee a year, and provides educational programming for young and old alike. Personally, I love being able to enjoy the Maine High School basketball tournament every year, as well as getting Maine news on my ride home from work every day. I think this fight is old and tired, and not one worth bringing up every year, but I'm not sure Governor LePage cares. I'm pretty sure he gets his marching orders from a higher power, and he'll continue to do their bidding. I'm just saying...