Whilst legislative leaders try to come to a global agreement on phase two of the state’s deficit reduction plan, conference committees can’t really make headway on their various parts of the budget. As it stands, the Senate’s deficit reduction plan makes no further cuts to the arts, while the House bill includes an additional 3% cut to the arts. (The arts were cut by 4% in the first phase of deficit reduction). Grants funded by the Minnesota State Arts Board and Regional Arts Councils reach every county of the state. We may not see movement towards an agreement for a while.
The wait for a global agreement is also holding up decision on bonding projects, although yesterday the Senate DFL and Republican conferees agreed that the final bill should be about $908 million, which is a compromise between the Senate’s $1.2 billion and the House’s $740 million. The House conferees, however, did not sign on to the deal. If the final bill does end up at $908 million, that’s great news for the arts, because all of the arts projects could potentially fit in a bill that large. Even if you or your arts organization don’t have a project at the capitol this year, it is in all of our interest to have as many of the arts projects funded as possible, to make it easier for those that follow. We need to show our unity by supporting all of the arts projects. In addition, there is a possibility that some of the arts projects may be vetoed when they reach the Governor. So, watch for future alerts about veto overrides. For now, you can help both arts funding and the bonding projects by calling your own legislators with the following message: “Please support the Senate position on the arts, which is no additional cuts. In addition, please fund all of the arts bonding projects.” If you donÃ¢t know who your legislators are or how to contact them, just give us a call and we’ll get the information for you. You should know that right now, e-mails may NOT be the most effective way to reach your legislator because they are getting hundreds of e-mails a day. The best thing to do is pick up the phone and give them a call. Don’t forget to tell them that you are a constituent.
In an interesting move, yesterday the Senate completed a veto override of $7.8 million in grants to help public television convert to digital transmission. It is interesting to note that the legislature has now overridden the governor nine times, three of the overrides being the Lanesboro arts project (2000), the first phase of the Guthrie project (2000) and these public tv grants.