The House and Senate finally passed the FY 2013 Continuing Resolution which incorporated most of the sequester cuts ordered on March 1.
Only a few programs were amended to restore some of their original funding with a large majority of the across-the-board reductions being maintained. As detailed in my previous post, funding decreases to the National Endowment for the Arts remain at $7 million shaved off the $146 million annual budget.
The funding measure officially closes the books on the last fiscal year as Congress advanced separate budget resolutions for FY 2014. These resolutions are non-binding and do not require the signature of the president to pass, but they do provide instructions that will guide the appropriations process and inform the upcoming tax debates. They are to be taken seriously as the bills represent each party’s “vision” for fiscal policy.
The House version proposes deep cuts to discretionary spending, major changes to entitlements and tax reform that would dramatically lower marginal and corporate tax rates while balancing the budget in 10 years. Also, the House budget contains language for the third year in a row that takes aim at federal cultural funding:
“Federal subsidies for the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting can no longer be justified. The activities and content funded by these agencies go beyond the core mission of the federal government, and they are generally enjoyed by people of higher-income levels, making them a wealth transfer from poorer to wealthier citizens. These agencies can raise funds from private-sector patrons, which will also free them from any risk of political interference.”
So, there’s that.
The Senate version proposes to reduce the deficit with an even split of tax increases and spending reductions. Most notably, the Senate resolution suggests changes to itemized deductions, which might include the charitable deduction to raise revenues.
The mood on Capitol Hill suggests that a compromise on the starkly different budget proposals is doubtful. Will President Obama’s FY 2014 budget broach the divide between the two? We’ll find out the week of April 8 during Arts Advocacy Day.
Which leads to my second point. Today is the last day for advance registration for the national convening of state and local arts advocates here in Washington, DC (you can still attend via on-site registration on April 8 after today). As indicated previously, it could certainly be an interesting time for the federal budget.
If you require more convincing here are my two of my federal affairs colleagues, Natalie Shoop and Narric Rome, speaking about importance of NEA funding and why we need to add your voice to the discussion in a few weeks: