Chafee wants RI to be synonymous with the arts

Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee is pushing for a big investment in the arts as a way to build on an already successful sector of the state's economy.

The Democratic governor wants to ask voters to approve $35 million in grants for upgrades at performing arts centers, museums and historic sites.

Last year the state exempted locally produced art from the sales tax to help the arts economy and attract more tourists. Chafee says his idea is the next step in boosting one of Rhode Island's strengths.

The referendum must be approved by lawmakers before going on the fall ballot.

Top lawmakers say they like the idea but want to carefully review it before deciding if the investment is worth the cost.