Topeka — The National Endowment for the Arts says it cannot offer matching federal grants to Kansas this year because of Gov. Sam Brownback's veto of funding the state's arts program.
Brownback applied a line-item veto to funding the Kansas Arts Commission, essentially leaving an agency with no budget or staff. He proposed fundraising be handled by a new non-government foundation and maintained the state would be eligible for NEA funding.
But Victoria Hutter, spokeswoman for NEA in Washington, told The Topeka Capital-Journal on Tuesday that the state's decision to withdraw state aid to its arts commission prevented federal grant support in the fiscal year starting in October.
In the past, Kansas invested about $700,000 annually to secure $1.3 million in external grants for arts programs scattered throughout the state.
During the last legislative session, Brownback had proposed getting rid of the Arts Commission and replacing it with a private fundraising group.
But his executive order to do that was rejected on a bi-partisan vote in the Senate. Legislators in the House and Senate then approved a state budget that included $689,000 for the Arts Commission, but Brownback vetoed that funding.
Kansas Citizens for the Arts, a statewide advocacy organization, said Brownback should reinstate state funding of the Kansas Arts Commission.
"Governor Brownback has repeatedly and misleadingly claimed that his veto of state funding for the arts would not endanger $1.2 million in federal
matching funds," said Sarah Carkhuff Fizzell, a spokesperson for the Kansas Citizens for the Arts.
"With the state projecting a $180 million year-end surplus, we call upon the Governor to listen to the Legislature and reinstate funding for the Kansas Arts Commission," she said.