Rep. Steve Pearce questions constitutionality of public broadcasting funding
Rep. Steve Pearce, R-N.M., told KUNM there is “no constitutional authority” for funding public broadcasting like NPR or PBS. KUNM is an NPR affiliate.
Reporter Jim Williams made a disclaimer that KUNM receives around $242,000 a year, or 13 percent of its funding, from the federal government through the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB).
The House voted to defund the CPB earlier this month. Pearce voted along with the majority, while Reps Martin Heinrich and Ben Ray Luján, both Democrats, voted against the defunding.
“There’s no constitutional authority for our government to be in the radio business,” Pearce said.
Pearce mentioned that advertising could help the programming.
“Much of the programming is highly popular programming and advertisers would love to get in and pay for it, it would be, in my mind, the right way to go,” Pearce said.
Pearce mentioned other examples of areas he feels the government shouldn’t be getting into: health insurance, banking, auto manufacturing.
“At some point, we don’t have a free market at all,” Pearce said.
The total funding for public broadcasting in New Mexico from fiscal year 2009 is available on the CPB website.
Pearce was talking to NPR about cutting spending in the federal government when the discussion turned to the funding of public broadcasting.
“Right now the Senate is just ignoring the problem,” Pearce said, referring to cutting spending. “They’re content to kick this can down the road every two weeks because it ignores the need to cut more significant amounts from the budget.”
Pearce also discussed a plan he has to allow logging in Southeast New Mexico.
“We’ve got the wood in the forest, our forests are burning down. I’m saying that we have false choices in the past 30 years, choices that we have to choose a species over jobs is a false choice. We can keep the spotted owl alive and create a lot of timber jobs at the same time,” Pearce told KUNM.
Pearce’s law would exempt national forest timber cutting from environmental laws.
Todd Schulke, a forest policy analyst at the Center for Biological Diversity said in a statement, “This bill would sweep away decades of environmental protection, including the Endangered Species Act, as well as force the Mexican spotted owl into internment camps that Pearce calls sanctuaries.”