in California, Proposed Arts Tax Faces Resistance

Classic Arts News   in California, Proposed Arts Tax Faces Resistance
A California assemblyman is introducing a tax bill that will create a steady source of funding for the state's arts, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Mark Leno (Democrat of San Francisco) proposes a 1 percent surcharge on admissions prices for arts and entertainment, including movies, opera, and Disneyland. Leno says this will create $23 million for the California Arts Council.

California currently ranks last among the states in per-capita funding for arts. The ranking, Leno said, ". . . is shameful and embarrassing here in the arts entertainment capital of the world."

The bill will have a hearing and vote on Tuesday, but there is already resistance to the idea, from both other assembly members—who are more focused on the state's deficit than on raising new taxes—and businesses that would be affected by the tax. Milton Moritz, president of a movie-theater owners' association, said, "everybody is complaining about the cost of admission as it is. The average person doesn't care where the money is going."

Al Maitland, chief executive of the California Assembly of Local Arts Agencies, didn't think there was enough support to get such a bill passed. "This is an important bill," he said, "but I think more groundwork needs to be laid." In addition, the bill would create a lot of bookkeeping work for nonprofit arts groups, who would have to levy the surcharge.

The bill will not find support at the top of the state government. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's spokesman Darrell Ng said, "The governor and Maria both support the arts, but he doesn't believe new taxes are the way to fund the Arts Council."

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