Mayor Benjamin encourages legislators to override veto on arts funding

Published: Jul. 15, 2012 at 2:50 PM EDT|Updated: Jul. 25, 2012 at 2:50 PM EDT
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Columbia Mayor Steve Benjamin
Columbia Mayor Steve Benjamin

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - Columbia Mayor Steve Benjamin says cutting state funding for the arts will cost South Carolina jobs.

Benjamin wants South Carolina legislators to override Governor Nikki Haley's veto that eliminated funding for the South Carolina Arts Commission.

"I believe that a state with 9.1% unemployment cannot afford to put 108,000 creative economy jobs at risk," said the mayor. "The Arts Commission is the cornerstone of an artistic and creative industry cluster that impacts our state economy to the tune of a $13 billion annually."

Funding for the Arts Commission was one of 81 line items that Governor Haley vetoed in the 2012-2013 state budget. Although she said she loves the arts,  Haley said she opposes spending taxpayer dollars to support the Commission's administrative fees. "By providing the infrastructure necessary to turn artistic talents into successful businesses," said Benjamin,  "The Arts Commission helped transform $2.4 million in budget and grants into $571.5 million in state tax revenues." 

"It's not just about the author who writes a novel," he said. "It's about the editor that edits the novel, the graphic artist that designs the book cover, the printer who prints it and the bookstore owner who sells it."

"It's about supporting the small businesses revitalizing Columbia's Main Street and giving new life to downtowns across South Carolina," said Benjamin.  "I urge our state legislators to make it right. I urge them to override the Governor's veto and put the South Carolina Arts Commission back to work growing our creative economy and creating new, high-paying jobs for tomorrow."

Legislators return to the State House Tuesday to consider overriding some of the Governor's budget vetoes.  Supporters of the Arts Commission plan to rally at the State House Monday evening at 6 p.m.

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