The furor over trimming $4 million from state expenditures by slashing funding for Maine Public Broadcasting Network over the next two years is strong statewide, as email in-boxes and Facebook pages get filled with petition appeals to the contrary.

The proposal by Gov. Paul LePage to help balance the state budget by eliminating the public funding for public radio and television took to the Legislature’s Appropriations Committee this week, with impassioned testimony. The $2 million per year represents approximately 20 percent of the network’s operating funds.

MPBN officials said they were surprised and shocked by the cut, and cited a 1992 statute requiring the state to fund delivery of broadcasting throughout the state. That provision is likewise up for elimination, MPBN said.

What the state’s broadcasting network does, it does well: From radio towers in Fort Kent, Camden, Waterville, Presque Isle and southern Maine, we connect with each other, thanks to a strong organization intent on its mission to provide news, the arts and culture. It is not a unfamiliar model; i.e., British Broadcasting Corporation and Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, as well as our own national Corporation for Public Broadcasting, lead the way as strong publicly-funded entities.

This debate is reminiscent of national politics, when politicians in Washington, D.C., proposed in January eliminating federal support for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. It is a debate that surfaces almost systematically every year now, as budgets get trimmed.

But behind the numbers are scores of valuable threads that tie this small state of 1.3 million together. Maine Public Broadcasting, from its news to music to high school basketball games, is a large loom that weaves them strongly together, and with the broader country and world. We urge the Appropriations Committee to lead Maine out of this political discussion, and not contribute to the unraveling of the state’s fabric.