Just how they’ll do it is far from certain. But it’s becoming clear that budget writers are moving closer to keeping the state history museums open.
House budget vice-chairwoman Jeannie Darneille said she expects the spending plan being developed by House Democrats to incorporate her proposal to preserve the museums, which would merge them with other cultural programs and pay for them by raiding money for a planned construction project.
A vote planned for Friday will give a first reading of how much support that idea enjoys.
But even if it falters, Republican Secretary of State Sam Reed, an opponent of Darneille’s proposal, says the museums and the State Arts Commission aren’t in as much danger as they seem.
“I have talked with the budget makers in the Senate; I’ve talked to Rep. (Gary) Alexander,” said Reed, referring to his party’s budget point man in the House, “and I’ve been assured, there is going to be money for these organizations.”
Reed made the comments to House members at today’s hearing on the proposal by Darneille to put all of them into a new Department of Heritage, Arts and Culture.
Gov. Chris Gregoire has called for eliminating the Arts Commission and mothballing the museums to help bridge a $5.3 billion budget shortfall.