City & State or ZIP Tonight, this weekend, May 5th...
City & State or ZIP
City & State or ZIP Tonight, this weekend, May 5th...
City & State or ZIP

Supporters vow to keep pushing on sales-tax-for-arts legislation

By Howard Pousner

Georgians won’t be able to say this year whether they’re willing to support the arts with a small share of sales tax.
That idea, coming in a session that generated headlines about state funding of the arts, died Thursday night in the final minutes of the 2010 Georgia General Assembly.
House Bill 335 would have enabled every county in Georgia to put up for referendum a fractional sales tax of up to 1 cent for arts and culture, including zoos and other nonprofit attractions, and economic development initiatives.
The bill had passed out of conference committee earlier Thursday and was approved by the Senate around 11:45 p.m. But when it hit the House floor at 11:30 p.m., it drew an immediate objection. The legislation had not been on representatives’ desks for an hour, as House rules require, and the midnight deadline for all votes was rapidly approaching.
With that, a bill that had moved quietly since being introduced in early February, but that nonetheless held big implications for Georgia’s struggling $722 million arts industry, crashed.
Supporters had high hopes for the legislation, which they said would supplement chronically weak public funding for arts and culture in Atlanta and Georgia. One model for it was Salt Lake County’s Zoo, Arts and Parks (ZAP) Tax, which distributed more than $11.25 million to 158 cultural groups in the Utah capital in 2009 from a penny tax on every $10 spent.
“It’s a terrible disappointment,” Georgia Humanities Council president Jamil S. Zainaldin said of the bill’s failure. “At time when the arts are taking a hit in Georgia, we would’ve had the satisfaction of knowing that we could explore new funding initiatives that would help pull communities together.”
Flora Maria Garcia, CEO of the Metro Atlanta Arts & Culture Coalition (MAACC), which had advocated for the bill along with Friends of Arts & Culture — a statewide grassroots group of civic, arts and business leaders — said she was “momentarily disappointed” but vowed the effort was just starting.
“There’s only, what, 224 days until the next session, and transportation’s taken four years,” Garcia said. “We’ve gotten very far in one year with very innovative legislation, and it was really remarkable to us how much support there was in the legislature for this.”
The bill encountered late issues in the House on Thursday, and MAACC had supporters e-mailing Rep. Jan Jones (R-Alpharetta) and others. Friday Jones said there were “a lot of concerns in caucus,” ranging from potential “sales tax fatigue” among taxpayers, to the prospect of ceding the power to call for a referendum to an arts entity, to the question of who would be liable if a funded arts group defaulted.
Earlier, amid heavy budget slashing on Crossover Day, the House voted to eliminate funding for the Georgia Council for the Arts. The Senate Appropriations Committee later restored $890,735, attempting to ensure that the GCA would retain matching funds from the National Endowment for the Arts. The GCA budget was then cut to $790,735 in conference committee this week.
The private Georgia Humanities Council, meanwhile, received $50,000. That appropriation allows the council, operating with a $1.4 million budget this year, to leverage state funds with federal and private dollars.

12 comments Add your comment


May 1st, 2010
9:12 am

As I understand it, the bill was an “option” that counties could use for arts funding. The state would not be creating a sale tax ‘fatigue’ because the citizens would vote on passage and individual counties could decide whether or not to implement the tax. The counties and local citizens had further control on how the tax would be used in their counties. This is a great, flexible bill. I am encouraged by the comments from our arts leaders stating this has a good chance next year.


May 1st, 2010
4:14 pm

I have seen Artisan’s work and taxation of those unwilling to purchase his work is the only way he can make a sale. If it is really appreciated, someone will buy it!

Get Real

May 1st, 2010
4:31 pm

When you choose to be an artist you have to understand that you have to be actually good enough that people who like it will be willing to pay for it so you can make a living…not force others to pay you to frolic. We have a zoo…we don’t need another zoo. We have plenty of parks…although, we may need more park benches, so we all have a place to sleep after we loose our houses paying for yet another tax. What’s next…a sales tax to support baby sitters and lifeguards? Why not one to build a shelter where all the politicians that get voted out for trying to pass stuff like this can live.


May 1st, 2010
5:06 pm

We are quickly killing the goose that laid the golden egg. We cannot continue to pile on more special sales taxes without negatively impacting retail sales. I live close enough to Alabama to make it worthwhile to go there for big purchases already.


May 1st, 2010
5:23 pm

I want to be a philanthropist. Let’s have another tax so I can give away the tax payers money! Get good or get a real job! Earn your livin!

Rick Cole

May 1st, 2010
6:11 pm

Government art is bad art.

Cynthina T.

May 1st, 2010
6:12 pm

Give me a break…a special sale tax for the arts. If people want it they pay for it … a special sale tax is needed because no sane person wants to buy the junk!

Eaton White

May 1st, 2010
6:31 pm

I was under the impression that the Conservative mantra was that fewer taxes = greater development? Business are “strained” by the “tax burden” upon them, according to the Right. This seems to be ideologically dishonest.

I also find some of these comments highly amusing. One, this refers to institutions, not purchased “art”. If you had read the article you would know this. Two, some of the greatest architectural and artistic achievements made by mankind have been, technically, “Government Art”. Once again, the RANDactionary ideology of the unwashed, uneducated tea party masses overcomes reason, sense and logic in order to rant and rave against government. Honestly, as stupid as you people are, you wouldn’t last six weeks without the GOVERNMENT keeping things running.

But again, since you all obviously missed the point while ranting about artists and government – this isn’t a sales tax on purchased art. I believe that if you buy art, you ALREADY pay sales tax. This would be a sales tax levied on admission fees (for example) to places like the High, the Alliance, etc.

However, since it’s obvious that most of you are Philistines of the highest order, I doubt you’ll ever, ever have to worry about it. Unless they add sales tax to the rodeo.


May 1st, 2010
6:59 pm

What a crock….I guess I can toss all my unsold pizza into the trash when it doesn’t sell and send the taxpayers a bill because I suck at making pie.


May 1st, 2010
7:48 pm

Eaton White:

The government should not be in the art business. Government taxation for arts is not the purpose of government.

Eaton White

May 1st, 2010
11:36 pm

Which part of “ideological nonsense” did you not understand, “whatdoiknow”? Yes, that IS the position of you tea party idiots, but it is not anything OTHER than an opinion. It certainly isn’t supported by anything approaching fact or precedent.

Do you think that just because you keep saying, over and over, “Government should not be in the business” it will become something OTHER than an ideological opinion? No…it won’t.

By the way, saying “government taxation” is redundant, and make you look even more stupid.


May 2nd, 2010
12:26 pm

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