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Arts Group Faces Funding Cut
If one state representative gets his way, an Oklahoma arts organization says their group will cease to exist. If passed, a proposed bill will eliminate state funding to the Oklahoma Arts Council.
"The Oklahoma Arts Council is so important to OMA and to many many organizations around our state," said Brenda Granger.
Brenda Granger credits the start of her organization to the help of the Oklahoma Arts Council.
"We were able to provide programs and services around the state to all 500 museums because of those funds," said Granger.
The Oklahoma Museum Association is one of the many groups that gets a yearly grant from the Oklahoma Arts Council.
"Everything that we do comes back to the state through taxes and revenue and it's a very positive thing for the state," said Kim Baker, Executive Director of the Oklahoma Arts Council.
If this bill passes, the nearly 50-year-old organization could close its doors.
"What that means is all of our organizations across the state, the 300 plus schools we help support, our professional development services, all of those would come to an end," said Baker.
"Well first of all, I have nothing against the arts," said Representative Josh Cockroft, (R) Tecumseh.
Representative Josh Cockroft authored House Bill 1895. If passed, his legislation would reduce the state's four million dollar contribution to the council by 25-percent every year until it gets nothing from the state in 2017.
"We want to, I want to make sure that every single dollar that the state is spending is going to the right places and is funding the right things," said Cockroft.
The Oklahoma Arts Council currently gets 85-percent of its funding from the state. The other 15-percent comes from a federal grant.
"The NEA grant is actually contingent upon the 85-percent of the money that we receive from the state," said Joel Gavin, Spokesperson for the Oklahoma Arts Council. "So if the money from the state goes away, the NEA money goes away as well."
"It goes beyond the funds, they do so much more that impacts our lives in Oklahoma," said Granger.
Granger says losing funding for the Oklahoma Arts Council would not only be painful for her organization, she says it would also hurt the state.
"Imagine a blank canvas," said Granger. "That is what our state would be like."
Now Granger hopes to help save the organization that helped start hers.
Posted: Thursday, January 24 2013, 10:37 PM CST
IN OKLAHOMA NEWS
Major accomplishments of 2013 Oklahoma Legislature
May 24, 2013 23:22 GMT
Eds: With BC-OK-XGR--Oklahoma Legislature
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) -- Major items passed by the Oklahoma Legislature, which was working Friday to wrap up its 2013 session:
-- Tax Cut: Lawmakers adopted legislation that reduces the state's top income rate from 5.25 percent to 5 percent beginning Jan. 1, 2015, with a second cut to 4.85 percent set for 2016 if state revenues continue to rise. The measure has been signed into law by Gov. Mary Fallin.
-- State Capitol Improvements: The tax cut bill also diverts $120 million in income tax revenue over the next two years to a fund that will finance improvements and repairs to the State Capitol building. Built between 1914 and 1917, yellow barricades now ring the building's south plaza to keep pedestrians from walking beneath pieces of a limestone facade that has crumbled from the building.
-- Budget Bill: The Legislature adopted a $7.1 billion general appropriations bill to fund state government for the fiscal year that begins July 1. The bill increases spending by nearly $270 million over the current year's budget, with funding growth focused mostly on education, health care and human services.
-- Worker's Compensation: Fallin signed legislation to overhaul the state's workers' compensation system. The measure changes Oklahoma's current court-based system to an administrative structure. Supporters say the change will dramatically reduce workers' compensation costs to businesses.
-- CompSource: Lawmakers also passed a measure that converts the nonprofit CompSource Oklahoma into an independent mutual company that will be known as CompSource Mutual Insurance Company. The agency writes about one-third of Oklahoma's workers' compensation policies.
-- Rainy Day Appropriation: Within days of devastating tornadoes that struck Moore, Shawnee and other areas, lawmakers approved using $45 million from the state's constitutional reserve fund to help communities recover from the damage. Among other things, the money will help pay for repairs to local infrastructure damaged by the tornadoes and the overtime costs of first responders. A total of 24 people, including 10 children, died in the Moore tornado and two other people were killed in the Shawnee tornado.
-- Pension Changes: Lawmakers passed legislation to reduce the unfunded liability of Oklahoma's pension system for firefighters. The bill requires new firefighters to be at least 50 years old and have worked for 22 years, instead of the current 20 years, to be eligible for benefits. New firefighters also would not become vested until they had worked for 11 years, instead of the current 10 years. The bill also increases the amount that firefighters, municipalities and the state pay into the system each year.
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