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Arts money for schools?

Published (3/2/2012)
By Bob Geiger
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A bill that would require 40 percent of Legacy Fund money to be spent for school arts encountered turbulence Feb. 28, when some members of the House Legacy Funding Division questioned whether the bill interfered with the mission of the Legacy Act.

Sponsored by Rep. Pat Garofalo (R-Farmington), HF2433 would dedicate at least 40 percent of the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund to arts-related programs in public and non-public schools. The bill was laid over for possible inclusion in the division’s omnibus bill.

“My opinion on this is that children come first,” Garofalo said. He faced questions from several members about how his bill fits with the constitutional amendment that funds arts, arts education and access to preserve the state’s history and cultural heritage.

“What you’re trying to do is take General Fund reductions and make it up with legacy funding,” Rep. Jean Wagenius (DFL-Mpls) said.

Rep. Ryan Winkler (DFL-Golden Valley) said the bill represents the latest effort to funnel constitutionally dedicated funds for other purposes.

Garofalo defended the bill as an attempt to allocate money to students on a per-pupil basis and let school districts decide how best to use the money to promote arts.

When Wagenius asked whether he would spend money from the state’s General Fund to pay for arts, Garofalo replied he would only if Wagenius agreed to an equal amount of spending reductions to make up for the arts expenditures.

The bill has no Senate companion.

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