Topeka — Gov. Sam Brownback on Thursday hinted strongly that he will veto state funding of the Kansas Arts Commission.
A budget deal struck by legislative leaders includes almost $700,000 for the arts commission for the fiscal year starting July 1.
But earlier this week, Brownback gave commission staff notice that their jobs will be terminated next month.
Asked if he will apply a line-item veto to the funding, Brownback said, “That could happen.” But, he said, it was premature to talk about that since the Legislature was still finalizing the budget.
Earlier in the legislative session, Brownback issued an executive order to abolish the commission and replace it with a not-for-profit group to raise funds for the arts.
On Thursday, he spoke in defense of that order. “My effort to do in this to get more money out across the state for arts, but not to consume it by state employees or a bureaucracy,” he said.
The Senate rejected Brownback’s proposal after a storm of protest from arts patrons who said the elimination of the commission would jeopardize $1.2 million in federal funding and grants to numerous arts programs, many in small towns.
Senate President Steve Morris, R-Hugoton, said he hoped Brownback would not go against the Legislature’s wishes.