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Republican Hero: Kansas State Senator Fighting for the Arts

Kansas loves art too. Even if the governor doesn't. Meet the republican state senator who is standing up for public funding for the arts.

The public radio show Studio 360 took a local look at the budget battles over arts funding in this week's show. Host Kurt Andersen interviewed an unlikely hero in a tooth and nail fight to save state-funded arts in Kansas. Listen to how, and why Senator Roger Reitz is rallying support to saving arts in his state.

Kansas arts really need a champion right about now. Republican Governor Sam Brownback abolished the Kansas Arts Commission on February 7. He just ended it all together. The Commission provides grants to local arts organizations and, among other things, brings in federal matching funds to the state. The only hope to save it now is for Reitz to muster a majority of the Republican controlled state senate to override Brownback's decision.

"St. Paul said, hold fast to that which is good. I've never forgot that phrase in the Bible. That's in Romans. When you think of it that way, when you've got something good don't throw it away ... we don't have to go this way. Kansas is better than that," Reitz says in the Studio 360 interview.

At one point, Kurt Andersen asks if Reitz is worried he'll be attacked by Tea Party types, or called a Republican In Name Only. Reitz admirably brushes it off and says "I've been called that and it doesn't bother me a bit. I'm gonna stay right where I am." Reitz, of Manhattan, Kansas, isn't an artist himself. He's a doctor. He's defying his own party's top elected official because he thinks a state arts agency is not just good for culture, but also good for business.

We agree.

Images: Top (CC) by Flickr user gingerpig2000, below State Senator Roger Reitz official photo.

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