Tuesday, May 10, 2011

No arts for you!

I've never been a fan of Sam Brownback. Never voted for him for Senate. Didn't vote for him for Governor. I disagree with him on just about every issue. Rumor has it he's personally not opposed to the DREAM Act, but that sure didn't show up in his senate vote. He's also allegedly opposed to the death penalty, but I'm really not optimistic he would do the right thing if give the opportunity to spare a condemned man. He's certainly not pushing for repeal of the death penalty, even though he's supposed to be all about cost-saving and cutting the d.p. would save money.

I fundamentally disagree with his view of the role of government and his focus on evangelism. I find his connection to The Family to be disturbing. I find his interest in pushing as many government services to private contracts as possible to be horrifying. (Private prisons are a nightmare to me; prison health services have already been privatized and it's bad.) And he seems hell-bent on destroying public education, aligning himself with people who feel that college is really only for the upper classes anyway. (And yet liberals are supposed to be the elitists?!)

But even I didn't think he'd do something this arrogant, dictatorial, obnoxious. As governor, Brownback used his executive privilege to cut the Kansas Arts Commission, an agency with all of about 5 employees and a budget of under $1 million. But the commission qualifies the state for federal funds that we would lose out on otherwise. And it brings in money. So the legislature invoked its prerogative to reject the cut and kept the commission. While the House and Senate are still wrangling over details, both sides include funding for the commission in next year's budget.

But Brownback was determined to get his way. So this evening, he simply laid off all the employees of the commission. Well, that's sure one way to get his way. Who cares about following proper procedure. And who cares that we'll be the only state without an arts commission. This is what the Governor wants, so this is just how it's gonna be. The arts are for sissies, anyway.

Eliminating the arts commission saves the state about $700k, but probably costs the state more in federal matching funds and tourism income. And then there's increased difficulty in enticing people and companies to move to the state. People looking to move look for quality schools and access to things like the arts, dining, etc. It's ridiculously short-sighted of the Governor not to see how having an arts commission can benefit a state.

The above factors convince me that this isn't about saving money at all. This is about getting government out of things he doesn't want government to be involved in, like the arts. (Who knows what he'll think to do to limit public education...) Of course, he does want government to be deeply involved in other things, like the ins and outs of a woman's consultation with her doctor when she's considering an abortion. (He just signed into law something that micro-manages that patient-doctor consultation.) Brownback has his view of government's proper role and he will impose it on all the rest of us whether we like it or not.

It's gonna be a long 4 years. 

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