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The recent action of the Georgia House of Representatives to strike the funding for Georgia Council of the Arts was to be applauded. Not that we have a problem with the Arts Council, but with the current budget shortfall of more than $780 million, it seems appropriate that everyone, including the arts community, should share in a turnaround effort.
Teachers, policemen, firemen, workers at all levels are making sacrifices; furloughs, layoffs, business failures are being accepted by the working community to help in this time of budgetary problems. The action of the House to remove funding for the arts would play an important part in cutting costs and not raising taxes.
Now it appears the state Senate is proposing to restore a whopping $890,000 to keep the Georgia Council for the Arts afloat for the fiscal year beginning July 1.
Arts advocates have complained that elimination of the funding would "imperil hundreds of thousands of dollars in federal grants" (The National Endowment for the Arts is requesting a record $680 million from the federal government for the coming year). It seems as though some of our nonprofit organizations believe that these grants, gifts, stimulus funds, etc., coming from the federal government are free. How wrong can we be? Every dollar has to come from money collected from those who pay taxes.
Many nonprofit organizations, such as the arts community — which is tax exempt in most cases and do not have to worry about how much taxes increase — just find ways to get as much tax money as possible for their respective organizations.
We should not blame organizations for asking, but we should blame legislators for caving in to pressure from such groups who have selfish motivation devoid of adequate concern for the overall issue of keeping our state and nation out of bankruptcy.
The same could be said for the Senate putting back almost $900,000 for funding of the sports and music halls of fame in Macon, almost a million dollars which, for all practical purposes, would appear to be "politically correct" as far as our legislators are concerned. It is certainly not fiscally responsible to spend tax money on activities that have never been, nor probably will never be, self-supporting.
It is refreshing to note that the Senate and House both agreed to strike $793,500 from the budget request for completion of a huge horse barn near Gov. Sonny Perdue's home in Perry. Even a request for this during these difficult times is ridiculous and should not be in a budget. This does tell us how concerned our governor is in doing his part in controlling the deficit and keeping taxes in line.
Never before in our nation's history has our vote been more important. We should be watching the actions and votes of our legislators and politicians at all levels and take that information to the polls in November.
Bill G. Beaty