Archive for Sunday, February 20, 2011

Arts value

Eliminating the Kansas Arts Commission may cost the state more than it saves.

February 20, 2011


We don’t envy the budget-balancing act that now faces Gov. Sam Brownback and the Kansas Legislature. Dealing with a $450 million or $500 million budget deficit is no easy task.

Spending cuts are needed, but strong arguments are being made that abolishing the Kansas Arts Commission in order to save the state $600,000 next year isn’t the best choice.

Earlier this month, Brownback issued an executive order abolishing the Arts Commission and establishing the non-profit Kansas Arts Foundation. He even took the liberty of appointing a board of directors for the new organization. The executive order will take effect on July 1 unless it is rejected by a majority vote in either the Kansas Senate or the Kansas House.

The powerful House Appropriations Committee this week supported the governor’s plan, but at least some members of the Senate say that body may challenge the executive order.

Many arts supporters across the state are pushing that effort. Perhaps their strongest argument is the potential loss of up to $1.2 million in matching grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Mid-American Arts Alliance. Although Brownback has said the new nonprofit still would be able to obtain those grants, the agencies giving out the money say they don’t know whether the state still would be eligible to draw matching funds. These matching funds are critical to arts in Kansas. At the very least, this question must be resolved before the state moves forward.

There are other factors to consider. If the Arts Commission is abolished, Kansas reportedly would be the only state without a state-funded arts agency. Brownback’s vision is that private donors will step up to replace state funding for the arts. However, arts agencies already depend heavily on private givers, and there is stiff competition for donor dollars.

Private donors may be able to take up the slack in some parts of the state, but that will be less likely in many rural areas. It’s ironic that Brownback is cutting off state arts funding at the same time he is proposing tax breaks and other efforts to try to reverse the loss of population in rural Kansas. Providing a quality of life that includes art, music and other cultural offerings seems essential to attracting more people to live in those areas.

There also is an issue of jobs. In the press release announcing his executive order, Brownback cited the state’s budget shortfall and the fact that 100,000 Kansas are unemployed. Yet, the Kansas Arts Commission contends that the state’s nonprofit arts and cultural sector, is a $153.5 million industry that supports 4,000 full-time equivalent jobs.

For those looking at the state’s bottom line, it’s also interesting to note that in the current fiscal year, state funding for the arts amounted to 29 cents per person.

Twenty-nine cents. The governor does not have an easy task. If you’re trying to trim the state budget, you have to start somewhere, but state officials should take a hard look at whether eliminating the Kansas Arts Commission actually will be a net gain for the state.


overthemoon 6 years, 11 months ago

When the Journal World editors write in favor being reasonable about the reality of strawman budget cuts, someone in Topeka ought to sit up and take note.

Interesting that GOP governors around the country are granting tax breaks while cutting money to programs that provide jobs and services to many of their most needy residents or asking those that have been hardest hit by the recession to 'make sacrifices'. The argument for lower taxes is wearing thin and we need a short term tax increase plan on those that seem to not be as affected by the current economy. You simply can't cut programs, lose more jobs, and provide tax breaks to the wealthy. Telling teachers, public service workers, un- and underemployed that they have to 'make the sacrifice' while the wealthy are making out like bandits is simply unbelievable in this country. And this at a time when tax rates are at the lowest they've been in decades.

booyalab 6 years, 11 months ago

A basic economics course would serve you well.

M_12 6 years, 11 months ago

One alternative to fighting the loss of the Arts Commission is to embrace it and capitalize on it. "The only state in the country without an Arts Commission" is national headline material. Capitalizing on Brownback's folly could turn out to be a good thing. As a non-profit, the Arts Foundation won't pay into the state's tax coffers. Raising 1.8 million dollars a year, though formidable, is not impossible. Severing the financial ties to the state also severs the state's ability to impose it's idea of "morality" on the arts programs. Just imagine Brownback and his cronies reaction to a Kansas Arts Foundation lavish production of "Oh, Calcutta!"

deec 6 years, 11 months ago

I imagine the governor's handpicked board will kowtow to the moral standards of their patron.

Richard Heckler 6 years, 11 months ago

BTW it's not unions and Social Security breaking the economy it is Big Dollar White Collar ENTITLEMENTS, Wall Street crooks, the nations largest banks, the war for oil control and the medical insurance industry!

Workers ARE NOT killing Economy!

People on the job = a strong economy.

Keeping people out of jobs will bring on a series of tax increases by way of user fees. YES user fees are aka taxes no matter what.

How does putting people out of jobs create economic growth?

AGAIN it's not unions and Social Security breaking the economy it is Big Dollar White Collar ENTITLEMENTS, Wall Street crooks, the nations largest banks, the war for oil control and the medical insurance industry!

Big Dollar White Collar ENTITLEMENTS are killing the economy and our wallets

Richard Heckler 6 years, 11 months ago

Why Isn't Wall Street in Jail?

Financial crooks brought down the world's economy — but the feds are doing more to protect them than to prosecute them.....

nobody went to jail. Nobody, that is, except Bernie Madoff, a flamboyant and pathological celebrity con artist, whose victims happened to be other rich and famous people.

The rest of them, all of them, got off.

Not a single executive who ran the companies that cooked up and cashed in on the phony financial boom — an industry wide scam that involved the mass sale of mismarked, fraudulent mortgage-backed securities — has ever been convicted.

Their names by now are familiar to even the most casual Middle American news consumer: companies like AIG, Goldman Sachs, Lehman Brothers, JP Morgan Chase, Bank of America and Morgan Stanley. Most of these firms were directly involved in elaborate fraud and theft. Lehman Brothers hid billions in loans from its investors. Bank of America lied about billions in bonuses. Goldman Sachs failed to tell clients how it put together the born-to-lose toxic mortgage deals it was selling. What's more, many of these companies had corporate chieftains whose actions cost investors billions — from AIG derivatives chief Joe Cassano, who assured investors they would not lose even "one dollar" just months before his unit imploded, to the $263 million in compensation that former Lehman chief Dick "The Gorilla" Fuld conveniently failed to disclose.

Yet not one of them has faced time behind bars.

M_12 6 years, 11 months ago

You might want to consider a new posting identity if you are going to bash government supported arts programs. The Greeks taught us all we know on that front. To the Greeks, artists were the closest to the divine and they were heavily funded by the government.

Richard Heckler 6 years, 11 months ago

The real problems aka white collar crooks are not being addressed yet the Arts had nothing to do with killing the economy and neither does Social Security.

Wasn't Sam Brownback in Washington D.C. when the killing of the economy was taking place? Was he not paying attention? Where was he and what was he doing?

Move Your Money Why put up with megabank megalomania? Here are two websites to help you find a local bank that gives a damn about you and your community:

beaujackson 6 years, 11 months ago

Merrill, you failed to mention the root cause of the housing problem, i.e., Democratic congressmen who FORCED the banks to lend to unworthy creditors, and provided Fanny May & Freddie Mac to insure debts that would never be paid.

These unsecured debts are being paid by the taxpayers - and their grandchildren.

Only land owners should be allowed to vote. Period.

M_12 6 years, 11 months ago

I believe that those "unworthy creditors" are land owners... Would a person get more votes for owning more land? Or could they just put pieces of land in their slaves names and vote for them?

jafs 6 years, 11 months ago

According to the recent investigation, Fannie and Freddie were not significant causes of the meltdown.

The major cause was misbehavior by private businesses, combined with a lack of adequate regulation and oversight.

Orwell 6 years, 11 months ago

Save your breath, folks. The "blame Freddie & Fannie" baloney has become a part of the right-wing catechism. They aren't the least bit interested in reality or honesty.

Alyosha 6 years, 11 months ago


Where's your source for your claim that "Democratic congressmen ... FORCED the banks to lend to unworthy creditors"?

What are their names? How did they "force" banks to lend to unworthy creditors? Sounds like yet another internet conspiracy theory.

I know of no knowledgable and reputable source regarding the subprime mortgage who calls that "the root cause," as you do.

booyalab 6 years, 11 months ago

"but state officials should take a hard look at whether eliminating the Kansas Arts Commission actually will be a net gain for the state."

Of course, the answer is it's terrible for "the state". Nothing buys votes and puffs up the public bureaucracy like feel-good cultural initiatives. But those of us who are against it aren't making the decision with the states' best interest in mind, so we don't care.

handley 6 years, 11 months ago

Is this appointed board of directors volunteers? If they are paid their is no savings.

voevoda 6 years, 11 months ago

Thank you, LJW, for endorsing the continued existence of the Kansas Arts Commission. The amount of money the state would save would be miniscule. Why not raise taxes on Kansans who make more than $250,000 per year by $10, and fund the Arts Commission that way?

Centerville 6 years, 11 months ago

The only state without a taxpayer subsidized arts commission? OMG. I'm so ashamed. /sarc

Kontum1972 6 years, 11 months ago

and then there's that Kansas lottery BS..oh it will bring in so much extra revenue to keep our schools open ....our state will become more economically all those big winners moved out of the state or the country....after some primo scouting as to where they could nest and live like royalty....oh well 2012 is coming....i cant wait...hurry up lets get it over with


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