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Gov. Jindal exorcizes arts funds from Louisiana budget

March 30, 2009 |  3:36 pm

Jindal_tv_shot_associated_press When Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal gave the now-infamous televised Republican response to President Obama's Congressional address in February, he mocked the inclusion of "something called 'volcano monitoring' " in the economic stimulus bill. "Instead of monitoring volcanoes," Jindal said, "what Congress should be monitoring is the eruption of spending in Washington."

Twenty-six days later, Alaska's Mt. Redoubt began to erupt, spreading volcanic ash all over Anchorage and egg all over Jindal's face.

Now Gov. Jindal has proposed a $26.7-billion state budget for next year that makes painful but necessary program cuts to deal with a $1.3-billion drop in his state's general fund income. According to the Associated Press, "The largest cuts would fall on health care and education programs.... The state's health department would be cut $413 million, or 5%; public colleges would be trimmed $219 million, or nearly 8%; and the education department would lose $141 million, or nearly 3%."

Unmentioned by the AP is the fate the Louisiana Decentralized Arts Fund, a competitive program that makes small grants ranging from $500 to $10,000 to arts and cultural projects in every parish of the state. The arts fund will lose just a couple of million dollars -- chump change compared to the big numbers cited above.

Except, that is, when you look at the percentages. WWL-TV reported today the arts fund would be whacked a whopping 83% -- effectively putting the program out of business. The arts, not health and education, are taking the largest cuts by a factor of 10.

Shocking, I know. Who could imagine a Republican politician wanting to wipe out public arts funding?

Gov. Jindal challenged arts funding in the president's stimulus package a few weeks back on "Larry King Live."  "Fundamentally, I don't think ... $50 million for the National Endowment for the Arts is going to get the economy moving again as quickly as allowing the private sector to create jobs," he said.

The governor did not explain how the minuscule NEA boost -- which Congress ultimately approved -- would hinder job creation in the arts, public or private.

--Christopher Knight

Photo: Associated Press

Comments () | Archives (11)

THANK YOU FOR COVERING THIS STORY! As a Louisiana artist and educator, this budget cut will affect me and, literally, everyone I know. MANY of our jobs may very well be on the line. Moreover, the economic impact to the state will be devastating. Howie Klein just wrote a great piece for the Huffington Post detailing the very real stakes of this INSANE course of action. Please check it out and please do everything you can to STOP JINDAL'S ATTACK ON THE ARTS!!! This is time sensitive. The House Appropriations Committee meets on THURSDAY APRIL 2 to decide our fate.


We could use some help exposing this scandal being perpetuated by extremist Republican Bobby Jindal!

As you read this, public universities across Louisiana are anguishing over the prospect of massive budget cuts. But, as was the case with "ethics reform," the governor's budgetary "reforms" have not affected his immediate circle of friends.
In fact, the governor pays his top aides like Wall Street bankers. "In the elite category of state workers with salaries of more than $100,000, the state's payroll grew by $96 million in one year," wrote the T-P's Robert Travis Scott. "That amounts to about one-fourth of this year's state budget shortfall."
The Louisiana budget deficit is approaching $3 Million.

See a partial list of programs Jindal's cuts will eliminate here:

“The cultural economy is a $10 billion industry supporting 144,000 jobs. It’s certainly worth the investment, and the return on the investment has been significant. Our cultural stakeholders have made the industry a significant player in Louisiana’s economic health.”

As an artist/educator this is killer!!! We are marching on the capital tomorrow (Wed) to show that we cannot be silenced!!! Thanks for publishing this story and I hope that many will see Jindal for who he really is!!!

This is unfortunately not unexpected from a Governor whose religious views and self-serving promotions skew his ideas on the world. Culture in Louisiana is the backbone of who we are in Louisiana. As an artist, I am appauled that Bobby Jindal looks at culture as something that does not deserve to be funded. We do have some hard decisions to be made about the State budget, but the arts does not need to bare the brundt of the cuts at 85%. Every area needs to share the pain.

Shame on you, Bobby Jindal!

Government sponsorship of the arts fit the policy Louis XIV. But would it have been appropriate for jazz?

A typical, uneducated response of the disconnect idea by this very sad Governor of how the Arts actually support local economy. The Arts are an economy and a business Industry all over the country, that employs and provides income into State, County treasuries, by which the State will benefit.
Tourism, directly affected by the Arts offerings and cultural opportunities that an area offers, brings in, again, major dollars into local and state coffers.
Governor Jindal and his followers, apparently do not understand the depth of the Arts Economy. I suggest he meets with reps of Americans for the Arts, local artists and arts organizaions that employ a great percentage of residents, bring in business to other local businesses (restaurants,etc.) and actually hear how decreasing or almost killing an Arts Decentralization Program will cause further decrease in employment, a loss of tax revenue and a permanent loss of the local identity of what New Orleans and other areas in the State represent to the rest of the world, let alone its locals.
How very sad this governor has not learned from Katrina, that it was the support of many of us in other Arts organizations, all over the country, that helped support artists of all kinds, to renew their livelihoods and businesses back in Louisiana, let alone bring back some sense of hope to its people.
How very sad, that in this most trying of times, this governors' lack of knowledge and understanding of the Arts Industry, and personal lack of even knowing what is meant by the word "Arts", is used as his mission to kill what is the very life of his constitutents.
His poor attempt to be fiscally conservative, to gain recognition and a higher place within the Republican Party, is a pathetic showing of lack of depth of knowledge and cultural maturity.

This is the same blinkered, philistine ignorance that has characterized Louisiana politics since Huey Long. What does Louisiana have economically? Rice, fish farming, a little oil, and TOURISM. You cut the arts and you can kiss your tourism revenues goodbye. Guess that Hurricane Katrina taught the Louisiana Legislature that if the state can only be pitiful enough, the federal government will be picking up the tab. Seriously shameful, and a real hardship on the thousands of hard-working Louisiana residents who must put up with Jindal's posturing and financial prestidigitation.

It's incredibly short-sighted and shameful that Bobby Jindal would propose wiping out nearly all support for the arts. Aside from the economic contribution that these institutions and their proteges contribute to the state's coffers and to the state's position as a cultural groundswell, there is a more intangible benefit that is not measured in dollars and cents. Sadly, this is a very ignorant state (I've lived here for six years) and to them it is all about keeping their money from the underclass. The major paper in New Orleans, the Times Picayune, hasn't even devoted an inch of space on this draconian proposal, even as protesters are greeting the Governor in the state Capital. Music, art and culture ARE New Orleans. They are the thing that make living here worth it.

As a life-long resident of the state of Louisiana, I would like to kindly disagree with the comment about Louisiana being an ignorant state. Living in New Orleans for six years (or any where for that matter) does not qualify one to make such a far reaching and overly simplistic analysis of Louisiana. Simply put, regardless of the programs he cuts, Gov. Jindal will be damned if he does and damned if he doesn't---He is in a no win situation. I also find it insightful that one criticism would include disparaging remarks about how his religion skews his view of the world. Truth be told, if religion fails to skew one's view of his or her world, his religion is empty and vain--useless. Dare I say also, that I suspect the author of that particular criticism holds a negative view of religion in general, and that perhaps his or her negative view of religion has skewed his or her view of the world. Hmmmmmmm. Just a thought.


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