We’re continually shocked at the Kansans (and outsiders) complaining about Gov. Sam Brownback’s line item veto that slashed funding for the Kansas Arts Commission in the 2012 budget.
In 2011, the state funneled $1.5 million to arts organizations like the Kansas City Performing Music and Arts Association, Arts in Prison and the Kansas City Symphony. Many of the funds came complete from organizations like the National Endowment of the Arts, which match state funds.
When money is abundant, we see no reason not to throw financial support to the arts, although we would argue whether “art” is the responsibility of the public rather than private sector.
However, when times are tight, it is ludicrous to spend even the smallest amount on things like the arts. To use an old cliché, we have bigger fish to fry.
Those fish include a brewing and continual fight between the state legislature and Kansas schools who continue to dither over what amount of state funding is “suitable” to educate kids in the state. They include a waiting list of children with special needs who will continue to await funding despite Brownback’s veto of arts commission funding.
As legislators battled to create a balanced budget, projected 2012 shortfalls loomed. Every month a new report states the obvious – the state of Kansas is broke.
And now, state officials are choosing between necessities and wants. We find it shocking that so many believe that art is a need.
A family would never choose to spend money to attend the symphony if they didn’t have money for food or shelter. That’s essentially the sort of choices legislators, and yes Gov. Brownback, have been asked to make in this economy.
Do they pile new and higher taxes on Kansans who are already stretched thin? Or do they make cuts? We applaud the choice to spend less – especially when the cuts are to programs that aren’t necessities.
Regardless of what cuts are made, there will be those who call them abhorrent. Cutting the Kansas Arts Commission – and working to help find private funds – seemed like such low-hanging fruit for a state in need of places to cut. We’re flabbergasted that so many disagree.