The Republican War on The Arts

The Republicans are trying to kill funding for the arts. Like always. ThinkProgress:

KANSAS: The most pitched battles are in Kansas, where in February, Gov. Sam Brownback signed an executive order dismantling the Kansas Arts Commission to make way for its replacement by a privately-funded group. That move meant Kansas will likely lose $778,200 from the National Endowment for the Arts and $437,767 in funding from the Mid-American Arts Alliance. Both organizations require states to support the arts before they’ll kick in funding. The Kansas legislature pushed back, overriding the executive order and approving $700,000 to fund the agency, but on May 10, Brownback told the entire staff of the Commission that their jobs would be eliminated in June. He has suggested he will veto the legislature’s appropriation when the budget arrives on his desk, a move that will have the same effect as the executive order.

Brownback may also line-item veto $1.5 million in state funding for public broadcasting, though the budget the legislature approved last Friday produces a $50 million surplus even with arts and broadcasting funding included.

SOUTH CAROLINA: Gov. Nikki Haley said in her State of the State address in January that “the role of South Carolina’s government in the year 2011 can no longer be to fund an Arts Commission that costs us $2.5 million. … When you release government from the things it should not be responsible for, you allow the private sector to be more creative and cost efficient.” State lawmakers essentially ignored her requests, moving forward budgets with a 6 percent funding cut and amendments that require the Commission to spend most of its funding to provide grants. Haley reaffirmed her desire to eliminate state funding for the Commission in April, raising the prospect that she will line-item veto funding for the Arts Commission and South Carolina’s educational television program, which she also targeted in her January address.

ARIZONA: Gov. Jan Brewer entirely eliminated funding for the Arizona Commission on the Arts’ general fund, though the agency still gets some money through its Trust Fund, which is supported by businesses filing fees in the state.

FLORIDA: Gov. Rick Scott initially proposed keeping the Division of Cultural Affairs alive, but declined to fund its grant programs; the state legislature sent him a budget with $2.5 million in grant funding. Scott’s still considering line-item vetoes to trim the budget further.

NEW HAMPSHIRE: The Republican-dominated House of Representatives moved to dissolve the state’s Department of Cultural Resources in March, but the Senate Finance Committee has stood behind the Department’s continued existence, though it has proposed $530,000 in cuts.

Whether it’s the National Parks, the arts or, you know, women and children, the Republicans are willing to do anything to finance their oil subsidies and tax cuts for the super rich.

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  • Robert Scalzi

    these people make me sick… the sooner they meet their maker the better

  • dildenusa

    It’s thievery and Reverse Robin Hood economics on a grand scale. These people have no shame. They know they will get the boot in 2012 so they want to do their dirty work now and hope it won’t get reversed.

  • http://twitter.com/bphoon Brian C

    I live in Topeka. There was a great letter to the editor in this morning’s edition of the Capitol-Journal highlighting Gov. Brownback’s hypocrisy. In part, it says:

    One headline declared, “State unveils tourism initiative,” and the story detailed a new program to encourage tourism to Kansas, noting how it dovetailed with Gov. Sam Brownback’s “interest in growing the state economy.” But right next to it, ironically, another headline noted, “Brownback not promising arts funding,” discussing Brownback’s ongoing personal war on state funding for the arts in Kansas.

    So what, one is left wondering, does Brownback expect those tourists will be coming to see? As anyone who has looked at tourist economies knows, the arts play a key role in it, as they do in a wide range of development strategies from downtown revitalization projects in urban centers to new focuses for community growth in small towns.

    There are too many inconsistencies in the governor’s public statements and actions on this. There has to be something else going on…

  • http://twitter.com/bphoon Brian C

    More from the Capital-Journal letters column, from another writer:

    I’ve known the governor’s family for more than 30 years. His in-laws are big supporters of the arts. His children have reaped the benefits of the arts.

    Gov. Brownback made no mention during his campaign of eliminating the Arts Commission and has not made this an issue during his Senate career. He first floated this when he released his budget proposal. The Republican-dominated legislature restored money to the Arts Commission budget in response to the overwhelming support it received from the public. The Capital-Journal has stated legislators received over 5000 calls, emails and letters supporting the Commission. By preemptively laying off all the Commission’s employees and indicating he’ll line-item veto its funding, the Governor is going against the express wishes of the people of Kansas and their elected representatives. This leaves one to guess what his motives really are.

    So, Governor, what’s really going on here?

  • BuffaloBuckeye

    From their (GOP) perspective, this makes perfect sense with defunding the arts in “favor” of private support. Of course to stimulate private support, you need to lower taxes for the rich…. What an arse.

  • muselet

    I don’t think this has anything to do with money: not taxes, oil subsidies, budget shortfalls, none of it. It doesn’t even have anything directly to do with the arts (many prominent Republicans are patrons of the arts, after all). It has to do with Republican politicians’ distrust—even hatred—of artists.

    Every time the Rs try to kill the NEA, they point to all those awful, atheistic, faggy, non-white, college-educated elitists who don’t paint pretty pictures like that nice Thomas Kinkaide. Every time they try to kill CPB, they point to all those awful, atheistic, &c. &c., who don’t say things the Rs like.

    These state moves are tacky attempts to shut down dissenting voices.

    -alopecia

  • http://twitter.com/gescove Glen Scheele

    Unbelievable. If I read the article correctly, a $700,000 investment would have earned $1.2 million dollars in matching funds. That’s a half million dollars benefit to the state budget. The $700K represents about .01% (yes, that’s 1 one hundredth of 1 percent) of the Kansas state budget of $6.5 billion. So, like all the other assaults by Republicans, there is absolutely no economic rationale for doing this.