Arts Tax Opponents Hopeful

Opponents of a proposed arts tax in the state budget were hopeful today, after Democrats in the state House of Representatives yesterday cut the arts tax from the deal, instead backing taxes on cigars, smokeless tobacco, casino table games and natural gas drilling.

"Ladies and gentlemen, we are winning," said Robert Weaver, an organizer of today's City Hall rally against the tax. "We are winning but we have not won yet. We must encourgage legislators to keep the tax off the table."

Arts groups have raged against the proposed tax, part of a bipartisan budget deal announced two weeks ago. It would add 6 percent to the price of admission to performing arts events, museums, historical sites, zoos and parks in most of the state and more in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh.

After Democrats in the state house removed the tax from the budget, Republicans in Harrisburg warned that the whole deal could sour. State Sen. Larry Farnese, who attended the rally today, said he thought other revenue streams should be considered.

"Talk about smokeless tobacco to your legislator," Farnese told the crowd of about 100 arts professionals and supporters gathered outside City Hall. "I think it's asinine that we're not looking at this because of some political BS in Harrisburg."

Farnese said he will continue to push against the tax, although he would not say that he'd definitely vote against it.

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