TOPEKA — An effort by some Kansas legislators to save state funding for the arts failed Wednesday when the House rejected an attempt to override Gov. Sam Brownback's veto of the budget for the Kansas Arts Commission.
The override attempt won a slight majority, 50-44, but to succeed it needed a two-thirds majority of the chamber, or 84 of 125 votes.
As many as 31 House members were absent. That's not unusual for the day that the Legislature reserves for its formal adjournment ceremony. Legislators usually don't conduct substantial business during brief House and Senate sessions.
Brownback's veto generated bipartisan opposition and brought criticism from national arts groups because it made Kansas the first state in the nation to eliminate funding for the arts.
"This veto makes Kansas the laughingstock of the nation," said Rep. Ann Mah, D-Topeka.
But Brownback said Tuesday that Kansas is starting "a good trend," in which government focuses on its core responsibilities, which he believes to be schools, social services and public safety. He predicted other states will follow Kansas' lead.
"While we may be a trend-setter now in the area, I think you're going to see a number of states pursue this very same avenue," Brownback told reporters. "This is a good trend. It's so that you focus your budget items in core areas more so than in areas that we can afford to pay for off the private side."