June 29, 2011

Angry Lawmakers Rebuke Governor, Override Veto of SC Arts Commission

There was a party today at the intersection of arts and politics in South Carolina. The state's legislature overturned Governor Nikki Haley's veto of the South Carolina Arts Commission (SCAC) fiscal year 2012 budget reinforcing the idea that support of public funding for the arts can swing wildly within political parties.

Haley is a Republican, but so is the Speaker of the House and Senate Pro Tem President. The Legislature is also dominated by Republicans.

On June 28, Governor Haley used her line-item veto authority to attempt to eliminate all state funding for SCAC in FY2012. The legislature acted swiftly to override this decision. Both the House and the Senate voted by overwhelming margins (105-8 and 32-6, respectively) to override the veto, reinstating their recommended appropriation of $1.9 million for SCAC.

South Carolina communities and families are well served by this policy action because of the return on investment that SCAC provides and because the override faithfully represents the will of South Carolina citizens—more than 92 percent of whom, according to statewide polls, favor public funding for the arts.

"This is an important win for the entire NASAA (National Association of State Arts Agencies) family," wrote Jonathan Katz. "As states continue to struggle with funding shortfalls and future debates about government investment in the arts, South Carolina provides a valuable success story. The lessons learned—which NASAA will share with members—can benefit us all. NASAA is alerting national media and arts leaders about the override, which provides a positive opportunity for us to underscore the value of state arts agencies."

According to Katz, this veto did not happen without the hard work of the South Carolina Arts Commission, South Carolina legislators and arts advocates. Also, South Carolina counterpart to Oklahomans for the Arts, the South Carolina Arts Alliance, is premier, and we will be studying and watching their projects, programs and best practices programs closely.

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I like to follow Governor Mary Fallin's Twitter feed. She frequently posts inspiring tweets about Oklahoma being pro-business. In the months ahead we'll be doing all we can to educate Oklahoma lawmakers about Oklahoma's creative economy of which the arts are a major and fundamental part.

Pro-business, afterall, means all business, not just those that fall within the sectors of agriculture, energy, aerospace or biotechnology, etc. Learn more about the economic impact of the arts in Oklahoma.