Topeka A remaining member of the Kansas Arts Commission now controlled by Gov. Sam Brownback's appointees predicted Monday that it will be impossible for the administration to achieve its goal of retaining federal dollars after making the state the first in the nation to eliminate funding for arts programs.
The Arts Commission had been a strong critic of Brownback's push to lessen the state's role in funding arts programs and have them rely more heavily on private funds. Arts advocates contend the state will lose up to $1.2 million from the federal government and a regional arts alliance because Brownback vetoed the state commission's entire budget in late May.
But Brownback's action didn't repeal the law that created the commission and allowed the governor to appoint its 12 members. Last week, he filled six vacancies on the commission, having appointed a new chairwoman in June.
Brownback sees his veto as a cost-saving that preserves money in tight budget times for "core" government functions, such as aid to public schools, social services and public safety. But his administration isn't conceding that the move will lead the National Endowment for the Arts to cut Kansas off and redistribute federal dollars to other states.
"If Kansas tax dollars are going to be collected and re-dispersed through the NEA, then Kansas should receive its fair share," said Brownback spokeswoman Sherriene Sontag-Jones.
But commission member Henry Schwaller IV, of Hays, whose three-year term doesn't expire until 2013, noted that NEA guidelines require states to put up matching funds to receive federal dollars. He said he believes that if the state can't draft a new plan within the next month to support the arts, Kansas will be disqualified — and he doubts the commission can come through.
"We're running out of time," he said. "We're really at a very difficult point — not unexpected, just unfortunate."