Arts advocates gear up to fight veto yet again

Back in the dark ages when The State and other papers were produced on a mainframe computer, the Atex system I used both here and in Wichita had something called “SAVE/GET” buttons. They enabled you to store simple, repetitive bits of copy — say, your byline — and insert them into a story with just one keystroke.

So whenever someone felt like he was having to write the same story over and over (a common feeling in the news biz), he’d say, “I need to put this on a SAVE/GET key.”

Well, I’m guessing that by now, the folks over at the Arts Alliance feel that way about their annual appeals to override Gov. Haley’s vetoes:

Miss Mona at the Statehouse

“ART WORKS in South Carolina”



The vote takes place Monday, July 6.

Take a few minutes now to contact your legislators 

and ask them to override veto # 21.


The Governor has issued a veto eliminating 

$1 MILLION for Arts Education.

The House and Senate included $1 million in the S.C. Department of Education’s budget for a partnership with the S.C. Arts Commission. These funds are intended to provide more arts education for more children in more ways, including in-school, after-school and summer programs. These new efforts grew out of a long-term collaboration between the Dept. of Education and the Arts Commission.

TAKE ACTION NOW! The Legislature returns July 6 to take up vetoes. Email or call your House and Senate members and ask that they vote to override Veto # 21 to ensure that S.C. children, especially those in underserved, high poverty areas, have access to additional arts education opportunities.

Feel free to use the SCAA’s 2015 General Assembly Contact List by clicking HERE or at the SCAA’s websiteYou can also use these links: 



Please feel free to share this Call to Action with your friends and colleagues and through social media. Keep up with the latest budget activity and other important arts news by following the SCAA on Facebook and Twitter — just click our icons below!  Thank you!


Please take the time now to support the important work of the South Carolina arts Alliance as the only statewide advocacy organization that advocates for ALL the ARTS and we have a proven record of success!

Just go to: and click the “Donate” button. You can pay on line at our secure web form or use it to indicate other forms of payment.  Your contribution is 100% tax deductible.   


Thank YOU for your support!

Betty Plumb, Executive Director
South Carolina Arts  Alliance

29 thoughts on “Arts advocates gear up to fight veto yet again

  1. Doug Ross

    If people want to fund arts programs, let them contribute. Find 10,000 art lovers to donate $100 each.

    Or if people want education tax dollars to be spent on arts programs, cut the football program budget by $2000 at every high school in the state.

    It’s easier to spend other people’s money than it is to set priorities.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      Doug, public arts funding has always been something I’m sort of ambivalent about.

      But there are a lot of folks who are willing to pay taxes to support education AND the arts. And, I suppose, high school football. And those folks get a say, too. And may the best argument win the debate.

      It’s like when you’re always telling me to choose between a civilized, rational health system and a military sufficient to meet our goals and obligations around the world. I don’t choose to choose. I’m willing to pay taxes for both. That doesn’t make my view illegitimate; it just means that you and I are two free Americans who disagree.

      And it’s not “other people’s money.” It’s our money. If it’s been raised legally through our system of representative government, it’s ours. It belongs to all of us. “Other people’s money” has never had any basis in fact; it’s just a catchphrase that appeals to libertarians.

      1. Jeff Mobley

        It may very well be that “other people’s money” is indeed a catchphrase that appeals to libertarians, but how can you argue that it “has never had any basis in fact”? Yes, the money in the state treasury has been raised legally through taxes, but that doesn’t mean that a legislator, whose job is to appropriate that money in the public interest, should be agnostic about the ultimate source of that money. Indeed, the opposite is true. From the perspective of a legislator, that money consists of a tiny fraction of her/his own money that was paid in taxes, and otherwise is made up entirely of “other people’s money” transferred to the government in the same way.

        Indeed, the truth that it is “other people’s money” is what should restrain legislators from spending such money on things that are not in the public interest, or that can be expected to be funded from private sources.

        Now, whether funding for the arts is a legitimate appropriation of state monies is a question of policy on which reasonable people may disagree, as you say, Brad. I would tend to think many people might be inclined to support it if there were no potholes anywhere in the state.

        1. Brad Warthen Post author

          But see, being a communitarian, I think that a lawmaker should be restrained “from spending such money on things that are not in the public interest” by the knowledge that it is OUR money, and that he is responsible to all of his neighbors and constituents for how it is spent. To me, that’s a substantial burden and constraint, and far more binding than the “other people’s money” assertion, which I find to be mendacious.

          It’s also objectionable to me, of course, because of the way it’s related to the libertarian habit of thinking in terms of “I, me, mine” instead of the overall public good, which should be the object of public policy discussions. The libertarian thinks in terms of “my money” and “your money” rather than believing in the legitimacy of, through the process of representative democracy, raising funds that become OUR money.

          1. Doug Ross

            It’s not MY money, it’s OUR money. But it is also true that in the large pot of OUR money, I contributed more than most and yet I have no ability to impact how it is spent (unless I also donate money to the election campaign of a politician who will then give my needs more attention).

            And when it’s OUR money, that means it should be spent to further the interests of the most people and according the specific duties that government should be responsible for. Football is not a core function of government. When we spend $30 million on a single stadium in Richland 2, why in the world should we also have to spend $1 million for arts programs? Couldn’t SOMEBODY make a decision to maybe spend $29 million instead?

            1. Brad Warthen Post author

              “And when it’s OUR money, that means it should be spent to further the interests of the most people and according the specific duties that government should be responsible for. Football is not a core function of government.”

              Doug and I are in complete agreement on those points.

        2. Brad Warthen Post author

          But Jeff, I appreciate that you agree at least to some extent with my overall point, and I apologize for ruining that agreement by indulging myself in a swipe at a pet verbal peeve…

      2. Bryan Caskey

        “‘Other people’s money’ has never had any basis in fact; it’s just a catchphrase that appeals to libertarians.”

        No. It’s the correct way to describe the relationship between a legislator and the money he agrees to spend. It’s not his personal money. It’s other people’s money. It illustrates the fact that the money a legislator agrees to spend does not come out of his pocket. Accordingly, he is not as careful with it as he is with his own, personal money.

        1. Brad Warthen Post author

          Only in the sense that that can be said of a manager of a private company. Actually, it’s far more true in the private sector. A company’s money can’t be said to BELONG to all of its stakeholders — customers, employees, management — the way public resources belong to the public.

          Yet libertarians tend to use it only to refer to government.

          Also, consider — my context was how Doug and you and I all approach such a debate as citizens, and what we are willing to see spent on our behalf. So, a different dynamic from your example of an individual lawmaker making a spending decision.

          But even in that instance, I would argue that lawmakers are usually talking about how they are spending funds that have already been legitimately appropriated, and which is therefore OUR money, and does not belong to individuals in any reasonable sense. They’re almost always talking about how to use the funds that current taxes are bringing in. Only on rare occasions are they talking about spending money that they will have to levy additional taxes — in other words, money that is still “other people’s” — to pay for.

          That was the case in discussions about raising the gas tax to pay for roads. But it’s not the case with these vetoes…

          1. Brad Warthen Post author

            It’s a phrase freighted with emotion, and to my ear strongly implies that the process of changing money from “other people’s” to the public’s is somehow inherently illegitimate.

          2. Doug Ross

            Would a legislator spend $1 million of his own money on arts programs? Never. But when he can allocate that $1 million to people and groups that can then help him get re-elected, he’s not going to think twice about it. The money flow is used as a marketing and campaigning tool — which is another reason we need term limits. Once they can get the money flowing, it makes it that much easier to stay in office. it’s the Golden Rule – he who has the gold, rules.

            1. Brad Warthen Post author

              “Would a legislator spend $1 million of his own money on arts programs?” Well, yeah, he might — if he had the money and that’s how he wanted to spend it. Millionaires give to such causes all the time.

              “But when he can allocate that $1 million to people and groups that can then help him get re-elected, he’s not going to think twice about it.” You know, there’s another way to phrase that, and it describes the same phenomenon. Goes like this: “But when he’s looking for the best way to spend that $1 million in the public interest, he will probably spend it in the way that the people who elect him want him to spend it.” Which a lot of folks would say is exactly how democracy is supposed to work.

              I wouldn’t EXACTLY say that — I believe that in a republic, an elected representative should exercise judgment, and not just automatically do what a majority of folks in his district would do in his place. Otherwise, what’s the point of having representatives? Might as well have direct democracy (shudder).

              But that IS the way an awful lot of people, perhaps most people, believe representative democracy should work.

              1. Doug Ross

                The problem, Brad, is that you deal in the theoretical and not reality. I’d surely support the dream you support it had any resemblance to what we have. We don’t have representative government.

              2. Brad Warthen Post author

                Not really. As I just said, a lot of people — probably MOST people — think representatives should be slavish agents of the will of the majority in their districts.

                I could have added that, unfortunately, that is too often the way things work — lawmakers going around with their fingers in the air, checking the wind, and allowing themselves to be blown in whatever direction it is traveling.

                I was saying that that’s perfectly fine with most people, and in keeping with their notion of how things should be.

                I disagree, because I believe that the system should work as intended.

                Unfortunately, too often we have a direct democracy, or something very close to it, and not a republic.

              3. Brad Warthen Post author

                You could say I argue FOR the theoretical over the real. That would be accurate.

                But then, so do you. So does anyone who is arguing for something to be other than the way it is…

          3. Jeff Mobley

            Brad, no apology necessary, of course. I agree that we agree to some extent, and of course that hasn’t been ruined, but it’s also fun to argue about the whole “other people’s money” thing, and so…

            An important distinction between money held by a private company and money held by the state must be stated, and that is that generally, money held by a private company has been collected in a series of voluntary exchanges of goods and / or services. Money held in the public treasury has been collected by the government, an entity possessed of corecive power that can throw you in jail if you don’t pay up. Now, yes, this arrangement is according to our system of representative government, but the implicit understanding in a civil society is that the people cede this tax authority to government because a government is necessary to protect our rights and property and so forth. This is why, when goverment spends money that has nothing to do with any of these things, there is a strong argument to be made (and many libertarians make it) that theft has occurred.

            For perspective, consider Bobby Harrell. I would be the last to defend him, since he clearly acted in fraudulent and illegal ways. But remember that the money he misused was GIVEN to him FREELY by his contributers. Of course, it was given with the understanding that would be used for the specific purposes allowed under campaign law, but nevertheless, it was not extracted from them by the government under threat of punishment. He misused those funds, and deserves to be punished, but shouldn’t that make us think: The government actually takes our tax money whether we like it or not. How much more should they be considered guilty of malfeasance when they spend it on stuff that doesn’t benefit the state as a whole, or which doesn’t really need public funding?

  2. SBS

    Public art is an investment in civilization – banking for those rare moments of idle bliss here and there when we are not fighting fires, wars or Confederate ghosts & their flags. Anyone who goes out of his or her way to grouse about throwing a mere pittance toward funding it — is wound too tightly and could probably benefit from a visit to an art gallery or public park.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      I feel that way about cultural preservation — about museums and libraries, and performances of the classics.

      Where I am ambivalent is when it comes to funding new art, particularly if it is of a sort that would consider itself avant-garde.

      I’m inclined to say let the market sort out which new art is worth funding. If it finds acceptance, then it might well make it into “my” public museums in the future…

    2. Doug Ross

      Public art is somebody deciding what is “art” for everyone else and spending other people’s money to promote it. If the money was distributed randomly to a wide variety of organizations, I’d be fine with it. But the way it is spent now, it goes to the same programs year after year even though there’s little evidence they could exist purely on their merits without government support.

            1. Doug Ross

              You would steal from me to give to them. That makes you a thief.

              Define artist anyway. Eminem? Snoop Dogg? Justin Beiber? Should we support them with tax dollars, too?

              You want your personal artistic preferences to be funded. Why can’t I have mine funded as well?

              1. SBS

                No — I just want the little children to be able to study art and make huge conglomerations of it that we put on display in the public square whether it’s aesthetic or not.

  3. Phillip

    You guys keep talking about “public art” and “arts programs”—but this particular veto, if I’m reading it correctly, pertains to arts education—this is not about financing “new art” or “avant-garde” anything. The SC Arts Commission has a terrific track record on partnering with school districts around the state to help kids have their eyes, ears, minds opened through encountering the arts, kids who might not otherwise have easy access to such experiences. And that track record has been achieved with very modest funding levels. The operative word here is “education.”

    Ongoing funding for operational purposes of organizations like orchestras in SC, theater companies, art museums, that’s a separate discussion—of course I think that’s a part of a healthy ecosystem for any community in the same sense that libraries and parks are. But this particular veto is not about that, it’s about the public schools.


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