After Long Road, Election Brings Some Issues to Conclusion

Wed, 11/07/2012 - 10:25am

Photo: California voting instructionsIt was a long road that turned in unexpected directions, but last night's election brought Los Angeles County, California, and the United States to the end of a long and sometimes heated campaign season.

President Obama's election to a second term likely bodes well for the National Endowment for the Arts and, by extension, state and local arts agencies and artists nationwide.  As part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, Obama dedicated millions of dollars to the NEA to support artists' participation in the economic recovery after a successful campaign by the Americans for the Arts and the Arts Action Fund.

In California, the education funding ballot initiative Proposition 30, launched by Governor Jerry Brown and supported by Arts for LA and education advocacy organizations statewide, passed with nearly fifty-four percent of the vote.  Proposion 38, funded primarily by civil rights attorney Molly Munger and endorsed by Arts for LA, failed to secure a majority with only twenty-seven percent of voters approving the proposition.  Often perceived as "competing" propositions because they both raised taxes in order to fund education over a seven-to-ten year period, the two campaigns waded into negative campaigning territory in the weeks leading up to the election. 

While Proposition 30's funds do not go directly to schools (as they would have under Proposition 38), 30's passage does end the threat of disastrous "trigger cuts" to K-14 education and makes some funding for public safety more certain.  The cuts triggered by Proposition 30's failure were built in to California's current year budget by the Governor and state legislature and were widely thought to shorten California's school year by up to three weeks.

Locally, Los Angeles County voters came very close to passing Measure J, which would have extended the existing thirty-year tax funding LA's Metro in order to fast-track expansion projects for completion within ten years.  The Los Angeles Times reports Measure J nearly reached the two-thirds majority threshold needed for passage with 64.72% of the vote, just shy of the 65% needed for approval of a tax increase. Arts for LA endorsed Measure J based on the reach of these expanded projects, which promised to bring more LA County residents to arts and culture destinations countywide, as such facilities tend to cluster along transit lines and near stations.