Del. David Englin (D), who represents part of Arlington in the Virginia House of Delegates, released a statement today about the proposed elimination of the Virginia Commission for the Arts. Englin called the Republican-backed measure a “shortsighted, high-risk scheme.”
Del. Englin’s full statement, after the jump.
In a year where economic development — and especially job creation — has been a paramount concern in the General Assembly, I believe it is economically shortsighted for the House to pass a budget that will completely eliminate funding for an activity that is currently returning $7 in investment by private citizens, businesses, and local governments for every one dollar of state money invested. The Virginia Commission for the Arts has a proven track record in economic development and has helped revitalize local economies across the Commonwealth. In the 45th District, the Torpedo Factory Art Center, the Art League, MetroStage, Signature Theater, Del Ray Artisans, Mount Vernon Community Children’s Theater and numerous other arts organizations and programs supported by the Commission over the years have strengthened our economy and enhanced our community as a tourism destination, creating jobs and contributing to tax revenues that support core services like education, health care, and public safety. Moreover, House Republicans have found room in their budget for investments of similar scale in movie industry incentives, despite the fact that the conservative Tax Foundation’s recent comprehensive study of these incentives call into question any purported return on that investment. By eliminating the already modest investment in a proven economic driver in favor of a similar investment whose returns are questionable and speculative, the House Republican budget is advocating a risky fiscal scheme that I oppose.
This is not the only or even the most shortsighted, high-risk scheme contained in the House Republican budget. For example, massive cuts to public education and health care and raiding the state pension trust fund will result in tens of thousands of lost jobs, hinder our economic recovery, threaten our triple A bond rating, and diminish our coveted rankings by independent groups as best state for business, best state to raise a child, and best managed state. However, given the importance of the arts to the economy of the 45th District, this is an additional particular concern that I will continue working to address as the budget process moves forward.