A letter to Governor Sam Brownback…

Sam Brownback joins the Ranks of the Inverted

Along with Conservative governors in Missouri, Ohio and other places, who have defied the

wishes of their communities in order to sack unions, fire teachers with experience, and make their medical needs a new and risky problem, Sam Brownback (R – Kansas), who was elected in the last eruption of tea-party complaints (which many voters now regret), has signed a bill eliminating the Kansas Arts Commission. The KAC was one of the leading State arts groups in the country, providing production grants and education projects throughout the state.

Brownback was sent this letter from Laura Zabel shortly after eliminating this program (on the grounds, of course, that the budget had to be cut back… but not the tax advantages of corporations):

Open letter to Kansas governor Sam Brownback

by Laura Zabel • Jun. 1

Dear Governor Brownback:

I lived in Kansas for 20 years. From ages 2 to 22. I was educated in Kansas – both in the public schools and at the University of Kansas. I love the Midwest – its seasons, its open space, its practicality. I’m the kind of person it should be easy to get to stay there. So, why don’t I live in Kansas anymore?

I packed my truck to move to Minnesota the night I finished my last commitment at the University. In the last 13 years I can safely tell you that no one–not one single person–has ever asked why I left Kansas. Because my career is in the arts. The assumption is that, because I wanted to make a career and a living in the arts, I had to leave Kansas.

It’s not impossible to make a living in the arts in Kansas – I have many friends who are making a go of it—but the opportunities are scarce. And you’ve just made those opportunities even scarcer by eliminating support for the Kansas Arts Commission. The short-sightedness and recklessness of this decision have been well documented. A loss of over a million dollars in national and regional matching funds, loss of opportunities for children to participate in creative expression, loss of jobs – none of those things have swayed you. So I’m not optimistic that this story will either, but maybe it will make the reality of your action a little more tangible.

What is the consequence when one 22 year old with a theater degree from one of the best programs in the region decides they can’t stay in Kansas to make their life and their career? Who cares? Does that really have any impact on the state’s health or economy?

There’s a financial consequence: In the last 13 years, I’ve paid approximately $22,000 in state income taxes and $15,000 in state sales tax. I bought a car, a house, had a wedding – all in Minnesota. That money could have gone to the Sunflower State instead of the Gopher State.

Beyond that, since I moved to Minnesota, my entire family has moved here, too. They moved here, in part, because they also care about the arts. None of them work directly in the arts, but they see cultural opportunity as a necessary part of a community they want to live in. So, three adult children who grew up in Kansas, took advantage of its public education and other services and then chose to pay their taxes, make their livelihood, volunteer, vote and serve in another state. Plus, two retired parents who made their whole careers in Kansas, who then chose to spend their retirement years and income in another state.

Just for the 5 members of my immediate family who have relocated to Minnesota, I estimate that Kansas has given up about $100,000 in state and sales tax income so far (not to mention the numerous other ways that we contribute to the local economy.) By that calculation, your veto of the Arts Commission budget only has to convince a handful of young, energetic college graduates that they’d be better off somewhere else for Kansas to be worse off financially because of this decision.

And those are just the direct actions that I feel confident tying to the lack of opportunity and support for the arts in Kansas. But there are also ripple effects: my siblings and I have six young children who will grow up expecting and understanding the value of vibrant support for culture and who will have little incentive to locate their lives in Kansas. In short, Governor Brownback, I think you’ve lost this family for good.

And that makes me sad. Kansas is a wonderful place-a great place to raise children, with a beautiful landscape and a surprisingly diverse population. There are also really excellent cultural opportunities in Kansas. Just not enough of them to keep me there.

Your actions have taken away opportunities for young people to find their voice, for citizens to make their communities better, and for the cultural traditions of Kansas to be preserved. Your actions have taken away very real income opportunities and jobs for the state of Kansas. And you’ve made sure that no one ever will ask me why I left Kansas.

Laura Zabel

People in the Arts, especially in states not considered major arts states (like New York or California), do not become millionaires as a rule. They do, however, create an economic advantage that is far superior to the costs of the state.

Sam Brownback is a dick.

About btchakir

Retired Theatre Producer, Graphic Designer, Usability Tester and General Troubleshooter with a keen interest in Politics and The Stage. Currently heard on WSHC, 89.7 FM (on line at www.897wshc.org) and occasionally dabbling in Community Theatre.

Posted on June 6, 2011, in Art, Arts, budget, Business, Corporations, creativity, Economics, editorial, Education, election, Family, film, Finance, government, history, Job Seeking, Labor, Lies, Music, News, Opinion, poetry, Politics, quote, Taxes, Theatre and Art, Word from Bill and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. Arts, education…..more and more are being cut here in Oklahoma too. I am considering leaving to find a better teaching career than I can get here. So even though we bought a house in Oklahoma, (which is now worth nearly thirty thousand LESS than I am paying for it), I will finish my M.Ed. and seek out someplace that appreciates my talents.

  2. The best art is not state sponsored.
    The money wasted by Arizona/Phoenix governments on “art” boggles the mind whereas Artwalk Fridays is a private initiative and that does more to bring in new blood and money than any bloated government program. Its also good that the money from Artwalk Fridays is from people who enjoy art and want to support it and not people who are forced to pay via taxes.
    If Kansas wants to support artists then let them do so in a private initiative. If this woman/people cannot support themselves as artists without government subsidies then they are not really a successful artists are they? If one wishes to become a sailor them one must find the sea, and if you are behind on the mortgage then thats really not the time to be buying new furniture.
    Art programs are a luxury and government subsidies are still handouts. while I am not a fan of all the corporate tax breaks etc. I am willing to bet that they do more to provide jobs than any Art Commission.

    Art will find a way and where adversity is overcome, strength results.

    • Wow. I don’t think I can agree with you. Nor would Michelangelo, or Da Vinci, or El Greco or thousands of artists over the Centuries who, under state subsidy, provided us with the works that both define and celebrate our civilization.

      And, by the way, I’ve known hundreds of artists in my professional and personal life and, as far as I know, they all have paid their taxes. I wonder if your private industries can all say that?

  3. REALITY!!

    ( http://my.firedoglake.com/iflizwerequeen/2011/05/16/how-about-a-little-truth-about-what-the-majority-want-for-health-care/ )

    ( Gov. Peter Shumlin: Real Healthcare reform — http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8yFUbkVCsZ4 )

    ( Health Care Budget Deficit Calculator — http://www.cepr.net/calculators/hc/hc-calculator.html )

    ( Briefing: Dean Baker on Boosting the Economy by Saving Healthcare http://t.co/fmVz8nM )


    As you all know. Had congress passed a single-payer or government-run robust Public Option CHOICE! available to everyone on day one, our economy and jobs would have taken off like a rocket. And still will. Single-payer would be best. But a government-run robust Public Option CHOICE! that can lead to a single-payer system is the least you can accept. It’s not about competing with for-profit healthcare and for-profit health insurance. It’s about replacing it with Universal Healthcare Assurance. Everyone knows this now.

    The message from the midterm elections was clear. The American people want real healthcare reform. They want that individual mandate requiring them to buy private health insurance abolished. And they want a government-run robust public option CHOICE! available to everyone on day one. And they want it now.

    They want Drug re-importation, and abolishment, or strong restrictions on patents for biologic and prescription drugs. And government controlled and negotiated drug and medical cost. They want back control of their healthcare system from the Medical Industrial Complex. And they want it NOW!


    For profit health insurance is extremely unethical, and morally repugnant. It’s as morally repugnant as slavery was. And few if any decent Americans are going to allow them-self to be compelled to support such an unethical and immoral crime against humanity.

    This is a matter of National and Global security. There can be NO MORE EXCUSES.

    Further, we want that corrupt, undemocratic filibuster abolished. Whats the point of an election if one corrupt member of congress can block the will of the people, and any legislation the majority wants. And do it in secret. Give me a break people.

    Also, unemployment healthcare benefits are critically needed. But they should be provided through the Medicare program at cost, less the 65% government premium subsidy provided now to private for profit health insurance.

    Congress should stop wasting hundreds of millions of dollars of taxpayer money on private for profit health insurance subsidies. Subsidies that cost the taxpayer 10x as much or more than Medicare does. Private for profit health insurance plans cost more. But provide dangerous and poorer quality patient care.



    This is what the American people are shouting at you. Both parties have just enough power now to do what the American people want. GET! IT! DONE! NOW!

    If congress does not abolish the individual mandate. And establish a government-run public option CHOICE! before the end of 2011. EVERY! member of congress up for reelection in 2012 will face strong progressive pro public option, and anti-individual mandate replacement candidates.

    Strong progressive pro “PUBLIC OPTION” CHOICE! and anti-individual mandate volunteer candidates should begin now. And start the process of replacing any and all members of congress that obstruct, or fail to add a government-run robust PUBLIC OPTION CHOICE! before the end of 2011.

    We need two or three very strong progressive volunteer candidates for every member of congress that will be up for reelection in 2012. You should be fully prepared to politically EVISCERATE EVERY INCUMBENT that fails or obstructs “THE PUBLIC OPTION”. And you should be willing to step aside and support the strongest pro “PUBLIC OPTION” candidate if the need arises.

    ASSUME CONGRESS WILL FAIL and SELLOUT again. So start preparing now to CUT THEIR POLITICAL THROATS. You can always step aside if they succeed. But only if they succeed. We didn’t have much time to prepare before these past midterm elections. So the American people had to use a political shotgun approach. But by 2012 you will have a scalpel.

    Congress could have pass a robust government-run public option during it’s lame duck session. They knew what the American people wanted. They already had several bills on record. And the house had already passed a public option. Departing members could have left with a truly great accomplishment. And the rest of you could have solidified your job before the 2012 elections.

    President Obama, you promised the American people a strong public option available to everyone. And the American people overwhelmingly supported you for it. Maybe it just wasn’t possible before. But it is now.

    Knock heads. Threaten people. Or do whatever you have to. We will support you. But get us that robust public option CHOICE! available to everyone on day one before the end of 2011. Or We The People Of The United States will make the past midterm election look like a cake walk in 2012. And it will include you.

    We still have a healthcare crisis in America. With hundreds of thousands dieing needlessly every year in America. And a for profit medical industrial complex that threatens the security and health of the entire world. They have already attacked the world with H1N1 killing thousands, and injuring millions. And more attacks are planned for profit, and to feed their greed.

    Spread the word people.

    Progressives, prepare the American peoples scalpels. It’s time to remove some politically diseased tissues.

    God Bless You my fellow human beings. I’m proud to be one of you. You did good.

    See you on the battle field.


    jacksmith – WorkingClass 🙂

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