Annette Bening Wants More Arts Funding For California

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (January 30, 2007) — Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger should ensure more funding for the arts, Annette Bening told the California Arts Council on Tuesday.

The actress, longtime Democrat and council member told delegates at the group’s annual meeting that she is encouraged by the bipartisan approach the Republican governor adopted last year.

Bening and her husband, actor and director Warren Beatty, battled with Schwarzenegger over the special election he called in 2005. Voters rejected all the governor’s ballot initiatives, which targeted public employee unions, teachers and state spending.

Bening, a two-time Oscar nominee, said state funding for the arts council has been slashed from a high of $30 million in the 2000-01 budget to about $1.2 million in Schwarzenegger’s proposed 2007-08 budget.

The council’s overall budget is about $5 million this year, money that includes funding from federal sources and the sale of special arts license plates.

Department of Finance spokesman H.D. Palmer said Schwarzenegger is committed to arts funding.

In his proposed budget, the governor included $105 million in annual funding for arts and music in schools and another $500 million in one-time funding for schools to buy art, music and physical education equipment.

“While the governor shares this passion for the arts, he’s also very passionate in his desire to reduce the state’s net operating deficit to zero next year,” Palmer said.

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