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Kaine backing museum funds
Kaine includes funds for the slavery museum in his budget amendments

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Date published: 12/19/2006

RICHMOND--Gov. Tim Kaine has proposed giving $250,000 to the U.S. Slavery Museum, scheduled to be built in Fredericksburg and spearheaded by former Gov. Doug Wilder.

The governor's budget amendments, announced last week, include $250,000 for the slavery museum next year. The money must still be approved by the House and Senate before it's added to the budget.

Kaine spokesman Kevin Hall said Wilder did not formally request any state help. Instead, Kaine's administration received a letter from the museum's Executive Director Vonita Foster, requesting financial support for the slavery museum but not specifying a dollar amount.

Kaine chose the $250,000 figure, Hall said.

"To my knowledge there was never any discussion about amounts, so when the governor was looking at the non-states, recognizing that individual lawmakers often step up and propose even more, decided he would propose the quarter-million just as a gesture of support for the project," Hall said.

That is not out of line with the amounts Kaine put in his budget for 37 other state museums and cultural attractions--most ranged from $100,000 to $500,000. In all, the governor budgeted $7.5 million for such programs.

The slavery museum and those other attractions fall under the category of "non-state agencies" --things that are not the state's responsibility, but which wind up getting state support when the state budget is flush.

Sen. John Chichester, R-Northumberland, said when he reviews the governor's budget amendments during the upcoming legislative session, he'll view this as "just another non-state agency.

"Two-hundred-fifty-thousand is a little bit heavy, but it's not unprecedented," Chichester added.

Earlier this year, museum officials said cash and pledges toward the project total about $50 million, half of what is needed to construct the 290,000-square-foot museum . They want another $100 million as an endowment.

The museum, which is being designed by architect Chien Chung Pei, will be built on 38 acres in Fredericksburg's Celebrate Virginia development, on a hill overlooking the Rappahannock River.

To reach CHELYEN DAVIS: 804/782-9362
Email: cdavis@freelancestar.com

Museum fundraising

Highlights of the U.S. National Slavery Museum's fundraising efforts:

2002--The Silver Cos. donates 38 acres valued at $15.8 million in Celebrate Virginia for site, Fredericksburg City Council agrees to lend museum $1 million, which is being repaid through special tax district at Celebrate Virginia South.

2004--Museum's tax return shows nearly $98,000 in contributions for 2004 and another $18,591 from interest on savings and investments. Total expenses listed at $473,254 for 2004. The museum has said its 2005 return will be made public this week.

August 2005--Museum approved for $189,000 in federal transportation funds to help build replica slave ship.

September 2005--Entertainer Bill Cosby pledges $1 million from shows to museum.

Feb. 7, 2006--Museum officials make public appeal for corporate donations.

June 3, 2006--About 1,100 people attend fundraising gala in Washington. Museum officials have not disclosed amount raised.

Sept. 22, 2006--Museum officials ask every American to give $8 to the museum.