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Deukmejian OKs $1-Million Hike in Arts Council Budget

Times Staff Writer

Gov. George Deukmejian has added $1 million to the budget of the California Arts Council, reversing his previous proposal to trim the agency’s spending plan by $3 million.

The governor, who had recommended the deep cut in January, raised the council’s budget for fiscal year 1989-90 to $16.6 million. The announcement came Friday when the governor signed into law the state budget of $49.3 billion.

Reaction to Deukmejian’s action was largely, though not entirely, positive.

“We are enormously pleased,” said Joanne C. Kozberg, chairwoman of the state agency that awards grants and technical assistance to nonprofit arts organizations. “The governor has just given the arts council and the arts an enormous vote of confidence.”

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“We should be dancing in the streets,” said council Director Robert Reid. He added that all 10 council grant programs will benefit equally from the $1-million augmentation.

Susan Hoffman, director of the California Confederation of the Arts, an arts advocacy organization, said she was satisfied with the new budget.

But the additional $1 million amounts only to a cost-of-living increase, said Hoffman, and compared to other states, California is “still pretty far behind” in arts support. The state ranks 35th nationwide in per-capita arts funding, according to the Washington D.C.-based National Assembly of State Arts Agencies.

No one from the governor’s office could be reached for comment Friday.

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But Calvin Smith, a program budget manager for the state department of finance, said he suspected that the governor’s action was motivated largely by the state’s improved fiscal situation. Since January, when Deukmejian proposed the $3-million cut, it has been disclosed that an additional $2.5 billion in state revenues will be available this year and next, Smith said.

The 11-member arts agency and the state Legislature had recommended to Deukmejian that rather than trim $3 million he should add $2 million to the council’s budget.

The council had also hoped for an additional $200,000 to beef up its administrative budget. Some legislators have recently believed that the council overspends in that area, and the request was denied. The state Assembly subcommittee that oversees the arts budget has asked the council to conduct various studies on how it awards its grants.

Since Deukmejian’s second year in office, he has annually increased the council’s budget by about $1 million. The council’s 1989-90 budget will go into effect immediately.

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