The Texas Commission on the Arts is seeking to double its budget for the 2014-15 biennium, after the legislature cut back on this non-essential function last session. Given the health of the state’s $4.6 billion arts industry, taxpayers should be asking their lawmakers why they continue funding the commission at all.

Even though the Commission had its funding cut by half in the 82nd Session, it still managed to accumulate a substantial amount of philanthropic gifts from donors, foundations, and the like. In fact, from 2011 to 2012, the Texas Commission of Arts saw donations improve substantially. With the legislature’s goal of keeping spending growth below the rate of population plus inflation, giving more revenue to a non-essential program such as the Texas Commission on the Arts should not even be on the table.

The arts and culture industry grossed $4.6 billion in taxable sales last year. Surely a multi-billion industry can get by without a few million dollars of taxpayer handouts.

If the governor and the legislature are serious about cutting wasteful government programs, the Commission on the Arts should be one of the first places to look for inspiration.