Status Report on RI Gov’t: Beaux Arts But No Budget

The temptation to contrast this RFP by the State of Rhode Island [PDF]

RFP # 7323535
The Rhode Island State Council on the Arts (RISCA) requires a fiscal agent to administer the timely payment of honoraria, fees and travel expenses, under the direction of the State Arts Council.

with this report by the ProJo’s Katherine Gregg about the accomplishments of the General Assembly at the half way mark of the 2010 session is irresistable.

They spent a total of $7,488,011 between Jan. 1 and March 30 on their own operation, including staff.
They introduced 1,716 bills. They passed six new “public laws,” including matching House and Senate versions of bills to lift the state cap on new charter schools, provide new business loan guarantees from the state’s Industrial and Recreational Building Authority and name the Rhode Island Training School for a legislator who died last year: the revered Rep. Thomas Slater, D-Providence.
If you include the 130 resolutions “commemorating the 166th anniversary of Dominican Republic Independence,” for example, or declaring March as “Irish-American Heritage Month,” and the 33 measures reinstating lapsed corporate charters and allowing otherwise unauthorized people to perform marriage ceremonies, they have voted on 169 pieces of legislation.

Noticeably absent: any action on the 2010 Supplemental Budget, though the fiscal year is three quarters over and the G.A., who haranged the Governor to promptly prepare and submit it, has had the budget in hand since mid-December. (The Gov’s office advised today that the Supplemental Budget will be heard Wednesday evening in the Finance Committee.)
As for the position of Fiscal Agent for the Arts Council, while I am grateful that it has been thrown open to competitive bidding (I’ll let you know if I work up gratitude that the position is funded with federal tax dollars), it is a reminder that funding of the arts remains an item in the state budget. As the 2010 Supplemental Budget has not yet been acted upon, in part, due to the unpleasant decisions surrounding a shortage of revenue, and the 2011 budget is short $400 million, soliciting a fiscal manager to disburse funds for an arts program seems a little like ordering dessert when the wherewithal for the meal itself is lacking.

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13 years ago

The budget is only $15K/year but who can defend this as a legitimate function of government (at any level)? From the RFP document: BACKGROUND: The Rhode Island State Council on the Arts depends on professional artists and administrators to review applications through our peer panel process in each grant application category, and also commissions three kinds of professional site visits and reviews as part of its review of General Operating Support applications. Panelists devote long hours on their own to review of dozens of grant applications, and spend one or two full days in meetings to discuss these applications and offer funding recommendations to the Arts Council board. In return, the State Arts Council awards an honorarium to panelists for each day they meet as a group. In addition, artistic and administrative site visits, as well as a financial report by an independent CPA are part of the review in our General Operating Support (GOS) category. Artistic site visits involve attending a performance or exhibition and writing up to two pages of observations on the artistic quality of the performance and the experience of attending a performance. Administrative site visits involve meeting with the leadership and professional staff of an organization to explore management, planning, finances and other aspects of the organization and its work. The fiscal review, conducted by an independent CPA, looks at the financial records of each GOS applicant and provides analysis for the benefit of the peer review panel. RISCA will have a resource plan of $15,000 for State Fiscal Year 2010, $15,000 for State Fiscal Year 2011 and $15,000 in State Fiscal Year 2012, including the cost of fiscal agent services. All funds are federal, provided as part of the annual Partnership Agreement with the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency. GENERAL PURPOSE:… Read more »

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