Yesterday, the legislature finally passed the second phase deficit reduction bill, which included no additional cuts to the arts. This is great news, because the House had originally proposed cutting an additional 3% from arts funding. The additional cut wasn’t included in the final bill. This puts total cuts to the arts for the entire session at 4%, which was done in the first phase of the state’s deficit reduction package. The cuts will be evenly spread between the Regional Arts Councils, State Arts Board Grants, and the State Arts BoardÃ¢s Operations budget. Grants and technical assistance from the State Arts Board and Regional Arts Councils reaches every Minnesota county, statewide, so this 4% cut will affect everyone. However, it could have been much worse. Thank you to all who attended Arts Advocacy Day and called or wrote legisators this session.
Additional good news was the restoration of funding that had been previously cut from the Perpich Center for Arts Education operating budget.
Jury Still Out On Arts Bonding Projects
The legislature still has not come to a final agreement on the bonding bill, leaving funding for all of the arts projects still uncertain. As of this writing, all but the Northrop renovation still remain in the bill. Originally, the legislature had planned to complete their bonding bill on Monday. The Governor would have had three days to sign or line item veto various projects, and the legislature would have come back on Saturday to attempt any veto overrides. However, there was such disagreement over how to handle transportation projects (particularly the North Star line, which would be a new commuter line between St. Cloud and the Twin Cities) that negotiations completely collapsed. Now, either the legislature passes a bonding package and the Governor gets to veto whatever he wants, or they don’t pass a bonding bill at all. Neither of these scenarios are good news for arts projects.