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All the World’s a Stage: While taxpayers spend half a billion more for tax prep, $8 million may be appropriated for private theaters, including the Children’s Theater Company.

The Legislature is off to its usual busy start. Many bills have been introduced—really too many given that the State has some fundamental matters to address. One of them is bringing Minnesota’s tax code into conformity with the federal code, though it is too late for this tax season. Gov. Dayton petulantly vetoed the tax bill, leaving our tax laws out of sync with the federal code, then refused to call Legislators back to reach a deal.

As a result, we will all have to spend more time and money on filing taxes this year. Professor John Spry, an economist at St. Thomas, did a rough estimate last spring, saying it would cost Minnesotans an extra half a billion in tax prep costs, not including the hidden bureaucratic costs  at the Department of Revenue. When I called Professor Spry this morning, he said, “This is a complete waste of resources.”

So just what are lawmakers doing while we get ready to do our taxes the hard way? Certainly tax conformity and other serious matters but there are some dangerously silly ones, too.

Two bills, with GOP and DFL authors, jumped out at me; it is not just about the improper allocation of money, there is a constitutional principle at stake. Check out Senate Files 547 and 533. The first would fund “Improvements to the Children’s Theatre Company’s current facility” while the second would fund a new “Playwrights Center Facility” in St. Paul.

Both bills would appropriate $4 million each from bond proceeds ($8 million total) to improve the HVAC at the Children’s Theater (“CTC”), and to build a “playwright’s center facility in St. Paul for use as a comprehensive play development program and workshop facility….”

This is not the first time Minnesotans have funded private arts institutions (the Legacy Amendment has become a fount of ready cash for the “arts” community.)

I adore live theater and really miss going. I went to CTC as a kid but did not take my own children there. Most theaters have been infected by the left-wing agenda, so sadly I do not partake. (FYI–The Children’s Theater was just found negligent but not liable for sex abuse of children in its program years ago.)

But even if our theater scene offered a wide-range of expression, does that mean the State should be funding operations?

Theater and all of the arts are expressions of core free speech, protected by the First Amendment. As such, the State has no business asking me as a taxpayer to subsidize the speech of private arts organizations (or to fund the start up costs in St. Paul). Nor should citizens ask the state to subsidize their creative expression.

It should make us very nervous when the State funds any kind of speech. In theory, what the State gives, the State can take away (or control). But it is only a theory so long as leftist institutions like CTC are the recipients. Imagine what would happen if the funding subsidized a Judeo- Christian playwright center focused on teaching biblical values. That’s never going to happen, nor should it.

Here are the bill files and authors:

SF547, Improvements to Children’s Theatre Company’s current facility are Paul Anderson (R), Jeff Hayden (D), Dave Senjem (R).

SF533: Playwrights Center Facility Richard Cohen (D), Dave Senjem (R), Sandy Pappas (D), Fong Hawj (D).




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