A Rhode Island think tank, targeting items from community service legislative grants to the state arts council, called for Gov. Lincoln Chafee and state lawmakers to cut $225 million out of the proposed state budget.
"As a whole, the budget remains bloated and unwieldy," the free-market oriented Rhode Island Center for Freedom and Prosperity said in a report it produced in conjunction with the Taxpayers Protection Alliance. "The state government continues to maintain ineffective agencies, interfere in the marketplace and perform functions that would be best left to Rhode Island's imaginative and resourceful communities, nonprofits and individuals."
The state legislature is considering Chafee's proposed budget, which increases spending from $3.35 billion this fiscal year to $3.46 next year.
"We are always looking for ways to become more economically competitive, and once again, this budget contains no broad-based tax increases for the third year in a row," Chafee responded in a statement. "I welcome anyone with ideas about responsible budgeting to run for public office."
The center said its list provides policymakers with budget-saving opportunities without cutting essential services and programs.
It called for saving $2.3 million by eliminating state general funding for the Rhode Island State Council on the Arts and transferring its functions to a private nonprofit, saying the governor's $3.8 million request for the council represents a 37% increase over an "already bloated" allocation.
"Among the projects the agency has founded using tax dollars in recent years are an X-rated, erotic holiday party and a series of underwear 'art' that double as genital mutilation contraptions," the report said.
The arts council responded with its own statement, saying the center lied in its report.
The council said it doesn't fund "holiday parties," erotic or otherwise, and that the right-wing center's report made an example of art that was not funded by the arts council.
"Rhode Island spends less than seven one-hundredths of one percent [0.0007] of its general fund to support the arts; the taxpayers of Rhode Island agree they get more than their money's worth from this investment," the council said.