Gov. Mel Carnahan (D-MO)
Governor Mel Carnahan's leadership has encouraged overwhelming bipartisan support of the arts, resulting in unprecedented cultural policy within his state of Missouri. Last year he spearheaded and signed into law a provision designating 100 percent of an existing tax on non-resident athletes and entertainers to build a $100 million state Cultural Trust over the next ten years. A portion of this designated revenue stream will also provide annual budget increases for the arts. This unparalleled legislation shines as a national model, ensuring the health and growth of Missouri's cultural assets for generations to come. Governor Carnahan's investment in the arts is also demonstrated by a number of exemplary initiatives.
Since taking office in 1993, Governor Carnahan has steadily increased the annual appropriations for the arts in the state, ranking Missouri seventh nationally in per capita state funding for the arts. He established the Missouri Fine Arts Academy providing 200 high school students each year the opportunity to participate in a three-week residence program to sharpen their artistic talents. His efforts have also led to the statewide public school adoption of arts education as a part of the core curriculum.
With back-to-back landslide victories, Governor Carnahan is one of the state's most popular public officials. A graduate of the University of Missouri's Columbia Law School, Governor Carnahan entered public life at age 26 when he was elected municipal judge in his hometown of Rolla. With leadership qualities firmly running through his family lineage, Carnahan went on to become Majority Floor Leader in just his second term as a member of the Missouri House of Representatives. Governor Carnahan and his wife Jean have four children, Randy, Russ, Robin and Tom, and share an appreciation of the arts in family life.