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January 30, 2023

Legislators propose to more than double arts, culture and tourism funding to $58.5M

Contributed State Sen. Christine Cohen, D-Guilford.

A bipartisan group of legislators has proposed a bill that would increase funding for tourism, arts and culture initiatives in Connecticut to $58.5 million, up from its current level of $21.4 million for 2022-23.

The bill, HB 6321, is co-sponsored by state Sen. Christine Cohen (D-Guilford) who said that tourism, arts and culture have proven to have a significant return on investment.

“It's a more significant state investment than we've seen in the past, but if it pans out, as we would anticipate, a $58 million investment could bring a $175 million return on investment,” Cohen told the Hartford Business Journal.

Cohen said the increased funding is feasible and could be obtained by increasing the percentage of revenue from various taxes -- including the hotel occupancy and car rental taxes -- that is allocated for arts, culture and tourism. 

For example, one possibility would be to increase from 10% to 25% the portion of the hotel lodging tax that is set aside for arts, culture and tourism.

Also, Cohen said funding could come from gambling tax revenue, which has been yielding higher amounts than anticipated.

No tax rates would be increased and the funding request comes as Connecticut is experiencing another budget surplus and has a fully funded rainy day fund. That’s prompted several calls for individual and business tax cuts, including from Gov. Ned Lamont. 

The arts and tourism money would likely benefit the state’s marketing campaigns, museums and entertainment venues, Cohen said.

The General Assembly’s Commerce Committee is crafting the language of the bill and is expected to schedule a public hearing.

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