STATE FUNDING FOR THE ARTS
The Special Session of the legislature finally ended last week and we have good news to share – we have obtained an 11% increase in state arts funding!
This fantastic outcome could not have happened without all of the grassroots outpouring of arts advocates like you from across the state who called or wrote their legislator, attended Arts Advocacy Day, participated in Virtual Arts Advocacy Day, or attended events in legislative districts across the state. Our message never wavered, asking legislators to protect and support arts funding.
State funding now totals $40.7M for each of the next two state fiscal years.
There are many heroes who helped us along the way, but the two most important are Legacy Chairs Rep. Leon Lillie (D-Little Canada) (left) and Sen. Carrie Ruud (R-Breezy Point) (center) who stuck with us throughout the session and made sure their committees adhered to the state statute that requires 47% of the Legacy Arts and Culture Fund be dedicated to the grants and services of the Minnesota State Arts Board (MSAB) and Regional Arts Councils (RACs). Another hero of course is Governor Walz, (right) who recommended in his draft budget that the legislature follow the 47% requirement.
Thanks are also due to MCA’s lobbyist, Larry Redmond kept a lot of balls in the air and helped us get to the finish line, and the 36 member MCA Board and Staff (top photo) who spent all session working to protect and increase arts funding.
BAD AMENDMENT REJECTED 102 to 25
One of the most important moments of the session was an attempt on the House floor to divert state arts funding away from the MSAB/RACs grant programs. Most legislators (by a vote of 102 to 25!) resisted this effort because, as one legislator put it, “my constituents love the way it works now. Why would I vote to do that?” This off-hand comment is a direct result of all of the calls and letters you have all made to your elected officials, letting them know that you support state funding for the arts. They are hearing you!
ARTS EDUCATION ELECTIVES
Another success this session was that we fended off an attempt to reduce electives in Minnesota High Schools. This would have reduced the opportunities for high school students to participate in arts courses. Due to the outpouring of opposition from constituents, the proposal was not included in the Education bill. Thank you for responding to the call for letters to legislators on this issue!
SPECIAL SESSION MAKES IT ALL MORE COMPLICATED
“Special” sessions aren’t so special any more, it seems that most appropriations years end in special sessions these days. The conference committees on our two bills – The Legacy Arts and Cultural Heritage bill, which now will provide $32.5M per year to the MSAB and RACs, and the State Government Finance bill, which provides an additional $7.5M each year, did finish their work by the end of the regular session, but the bills did not pass on the floor. Like all of the other appropriations bills, they had to be re-introduced at the start of the Special Session a few days later, when they were debated and passed on to the Governor. In the end, it did not change the outcome for the arts.
So, celebrate our victories, arts people! It would have never happened without all of your hard work. Thank you!