LexArts concerned funding will be cut from Gov. Bevin's budget

LexArts, 161 N Mill Street in Lexington

LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - A Lexington arts community has scheduled an emergency meeting stemming from fear that the governor will not include money for them when he makes his budget plan public Tuesday night.

Republican Gov. Matt Bevin is scheduled to reveal his budget plan Tuesday night during the State of the Commonwealth Budget Address. Bevin, who is giving the budget address for the first time, has already said Kentucky's two-year state spending plan must go beyond break even, calling for the state to generate more money to fix a multi-billion shortfalls that threaten to collapse its public retirement systems.

On Monday, the governor told The Associated Press he's going to fix the multi-billion-dollar pension shortfall without raising taxes and without borrowing money. Bevin said his plan relies on locating and utilizing excess state revenue, which means programs might not get the increases they requested or, in some cases, could have their budgets cut.

The Kentucky Arts Council, which disperses several million dollars in funding throughout the state, and its members are concerned that Bevin's budget will not include funding for them.

Representatives with LexArts, a member of the arts council, say they will be keeping a close eye on the governor's budget address. Last year, LexArts received more than $20,000 in state funding, which it used for half a dozen programs.

LexArts President and CEO Nan Plummer hopes possible cuts are not at the expense of organizations like LexArts, the Lexington Philharmonic, and the Lexington Art League.

Plummer said they give away a lot of money, a really important part of their work, but they do a lot of other things. The Kentucky Crafted Market, Governor's Arts Awards, very important programs that keep the arts front and center for both consumers and policy makers, she said.

"If the budget is cut for the arts here in Kentucky, it will hurt not only arts organizations, but lots and lots of individual artists who work for those organizations, who work through those organizations and it will hurt the citizens of Kentucky because what the arts council does to keep awareness of the arts high will fade," Plummer said.

The emergency meeting is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Wednesday. LexArts says they have invited local representatives to attend. They're expecting close to 200 people to attend the meeting.

As for the pension plan, Dr. Bob Wagoner, the Executive Director of the Kentucky Retired Teachers Association, knows it'll take the governor more than two years to fix.

"Based on his campaign rhetoric he said he would fix the problem, he would pay the bill so I'm very anxious to see his approach," noted Dr. Wagoner. "It'll be interesting to see how inventive he can be and solve the problem."

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