OETA losing support for state funds, lawmaker says
BY BARBARA HOBEROCK World Capitol Bureau
Tuesday, January 29, 2013
1/29/13 at 7:39 AM
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OKLAHOMA CITY - Support for a legislative appropriation for the Oklahoma Educational Television Authority is waning, its executive director was told Monday.
Efforts to end state appropriations to the agency or abolish it entirely last year fell short. Critics say it is not a core function of government.
Sen. Jim Halligan, R-Stillwater, said he believes at some point state funding will diminish. Halligan is chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on Education Appropriations, which held joint budget and performance hearings with the House.
The Oklahoma Education Television Authority, which was established in 1953 as a non-commercial educational entity, gets about $3.8 million in state appropriations. The figure represents 36 percent of its budget, said Dan Schiedel, OETA executive director.
"The investment the state makes is $1 per person per year," Schiedel said. "I believe it is a great investment. In return, we try to raise almost $3 for every $1 the state invests in order to operate the organization."
The OETA is seeking an additional $2 million for fiscal year 2014.
That figure includes $563,000 to increase coverage of the Legislature. It would fund five full-time employees with benefits, equipment, travel and supplies.
Over the years, the OETA has tapped into its foundation to offset budget cuts, Schiedel said.
The agency has discussed building up its endowment to replace state dollars, Schiedel said.
The endowment has about $26 million in it, he said.
It would take about $100 million in the endowment to offset the cost of a loss of state funding, he said.
The agency would like some time before state appropriations are ended, he said.
Halligan said some members of the Senate are not enthusiastic about continued appropriations for the agency.
Halligan said that although he supports OETA, he doesn't expect the legislative appropriation in its current amount to be sustainable.
Sen. John Ford, R-Bartlesville, said that although he does foresee continued legislative appropriations for the entity, the amount is debatable.
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Original Print Headline: State funds for OETA may wane, director told
Barbara Hoberock 405-528-2465