As the economy in Ohio worsens, Governor Ted Strickland abandoned his
long aversion to gambling and endorsed a slot machine at racetrack
provision which he estimates will bring in more than $900 million
during the next biennium, beginning July 1. In addition, he has
proposed $2.4 billion in cuts to Ohio departments, agencies and
commissions. The Ohio Arts Council, which had an appropriation of $25
million at the beginning of the current biennium and, because of the
Governor's cuts during this biennium, which actually received and
spent $21 million will suffer further cuts if the Governor's proposals
are approved by the Conference Committee on HB 1 (the budget) and pass
the House and Senate.
The Governor proposes that the Ohio Arts Council have $13,188,578 to
spend in the next biennium (July 1, 2009-June 30, 2011). This would
take us back to near the level of 1985 spending. We are in an
historic economic collapse, certainly worse in Ohio than in the
Country as a whole. There are those few in the Legislature who
advocate (we are told because no one has publicly said this) that the
Ohio Arts Council be eliminated. In what should be the last week
before the approval of the budget, it is imperative that we reinforce
to every member of the Legislature and the Governor our message of the
importance of the arts in so many aspects of our citizen's lives, but
especially EDUCATION and ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT.
We must also tell them that we understand the nature of our economy
and the tough economic decisions that they have on their plates. But,
what we propose, for very little monies, out of a $55 billion budget,
is to help them with partial solutions to their most vexing problems.
We are now at the final act of our budget play, we have the power to
see that this play has a happier ending than presently appears. I
quote again the old Anglican hymn "Let us march with vigor on!"
Please take action today and ask four friends to join you in making
contact with their legislators.
William P. Blair
Ohio Citizens for the Arts
You do have to give e-mail address and snail mail - as well as phone
number (if you send email) - but I felt this was important so I sent
an email. You can compose a snail mail letter, too. I included a
personal message along with the suggested comments.