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Cotto Draws Line in the Sand for Arts

By Jeffrey B. Cohen

May 13, 2009

You know everything is on the budget table when the biggest arts backer on the city council said he'd begrudgingly accept a $600,000 cut in city funding for the mayor's arts stimulus program.

"There's so many things that come before that, that I'm hoping we don't have to go down that far," said Councilman Luis Cotto, of the Working Families Party. "But I can't [say] go ahead and cut everything and not this."

Cotto said his suggestion was one of many he's made on paper to Councilman Pedro Segarra, who is overseeing the budget process. Cityline is hoping to get all of the council members' recommendations soon.

Mayor Eddie A. Perez has proposed a $1.7 million arts stimulus program, with $1.1 million of that coming from the city's coffers. Cotto said he'd consider reducing that $1.1 million figure down to $500,000 to save money, but there's a lot of debate yet to come.

"We believe in this stimulus program because it can retain and create 200 jobs for Hartford residents," said Sarah Barr, Perez's spokeswoman. "We continue to put our faith and energy behind it."

One thing is certain, Cotto and others on the council said: The council isn't going to pass the mayor's tax hike as is.

"I don't think anybody is pushing for the proposed budget to be the accepted budget," Cotto said.

Reprinted with permission of the CityLine blog of the Hartford Courant. To view other stories on this topic, search the CityLine at http://blogs.courant.com/cityline/ and the Hartford Courant Archives at http://www.courant.com/archives.
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