Federal Budget Update: Never a Better Time for Arts Advocacy Day

Posted by Gladstone Payton On March - 25 - 2013
Gladstone Payton

Gladstone Payton

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:  Read the rest of this entry »

Gladstone Payton

Anxiety is already building on what promises to be a historic (for mostly all the wrong reasons) lame duck session of Congress after this year’s 2012 national elections in November. This session could possibly have a dramatic affect on the nonprofit arts sector.

Because all the seats in the U.S. House, and one-third of the Senate will be on the ballot November 6, there is very little motivation from either party to find a compromise in advance of election day. With control of the White House hanging in the balance, the political stability that follows an election appears to be the safest time for these issues of substance to be addressed, albeit in a very compressed timeframe.

What is the big deal?

It has many names: “Taxmageddon”; “Legislative Apocalypse” and others; you get the idea. The country is on schedule to see large tax cuts first put in place by President Bush, and then extended by President Obama, expire and huge cuts in government spending basically happen at the end of this year. This means that a tremendous shortfall for the national economy at large. Currently, the Congressional Budget Office estimates are that over $600 billion will be taken out of the still precarious economic recovery by the end of 2013.

How did we get here?

Last summer, President Obama agreed to House Republican demands to cut the burgeoning national deficit in order to increase the national debt limit ceiling to avoid default on our debt obligations. The Budget Control Act of 2011 (BCA) put into place a bipartisan “supercommittee.” Charged with finding how to cut $1.2 trillion promised in the BCA, they failed (miserably) to reach agreement which will trigger deep automatic cuts of 8.4 percent (sequestration) to most social and defense programs as agreed to in the BCA starting 2013.

Adding to the anxiety is the status of the so-called “Bush Tax Cuts” and the payroll tax cut which are set to expire at the end of this year. By letting the tax cuts lapse, the marginal rates for just about every American are scheduled to increase and employees will see less in their paychecks. Combined with the previously mentioned spending cuts, you get a dramatic shortfall. This will spur a lot of talk about reforming the tax code and cutting additional spending, and it could affect the arts sector in a number of ways. Read the rest of this entry »

Rep. Louise Slaughter and Rep. Todd Platts testify at an Arts Advocacy Day hearing.

For 25 years of the Congressional Arts Caucus¹ 30-year history, arts advocates have convened for one day on Washington, D.C.’s Capitol Hill to flood the halls of Congress to share their views regarding arts initiatives.

On this day, such active engagement by the arts community provides our representative government with a first-hand account of the state of the arts in our country. The opportunity to meet with our constituents and businesses with a personal connection to the arts helps to put a face (and a talent) to the idea of supporting the arts at a federal level.

Arts Advocacy Day (AAD) is a day to celebrate the vibrancy of the arts and the wide array of talents here in the United States of America. There is no better place to embrace the great diversity of our country’s artistic identity than in the nation’s capital.

For the thousands of you who have participated in AAD, chances are you have met with a congressional staffer or two (or 435). As the staff members that manage the Congressional Arts Caucus on behalf of its Co-Chairs, believe us when we say these meetings have a tremendous effect on gaining the attention of your Representatives and help to keep the arts community in the Members’ thoughts throughout the year.

Because of this, arts staffers are your greatest allies in making positive change for the arts with federal investments. Read the rest of this entry »

On Friday, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the final budget agreement for FY 2012, which includes $146.255 million in funding for the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH).

On Saturday morning, the same bill passed the U.S. Senate and moves to the desk of President Obama for his signature.

The $146,255 million appropriation is identical to President Obama’s proposed budget, a cut of nearly $9 million from FY 2011, and is a compromise between the House of Representatives number of $135 million and the Senate number of $155 million as previously considered by their respective subcommittees.

Also included in this bill is $24.596 million in funding for the Arts in Education programs at the U.S. Department of Education, which had been zeroed-out in a previous proposal in the House.
Read the rest of this entry »

Amendment to Further Cut NEA Fails!

Posted by Gladstone Payton On July - 28 - 2011

The Walberg amendment to H.R. 2584, the House Interior Appropriations bill that would have cut an additional $10.6 million from the National Endowment for the Arts failed 240-181 earlier today. All 185 Democrats present voted against the amendment and 55 Republicans joined them.

As stated this morning, this success is due in large part to Interior Subcommittee Chairman Mike Simpson (ID) and Reps. Jim Moran (VA), Louise Slaughter (NY), David Cicilline (RI), Lynn Woolsey (CA), John Yarmuth (KY), Rush Holt (NJ), Bobby Scott (VA), and Betty McCollum (MN) who all gave effective and passionate speeches of support in opposing this amendment on Wednesday night.

The next step is for the entire House Interior bill to be completed and voted on with the committee-set appropriation of $135 million for the NEA in the legislation. It is unclear when that will occur.

In addition, the National Endowment for the Humanities is facing a cut amendment of its own when H.R. 2584 is reopened after the debt ceiling legislation is considered.

Stay tuned to ARTSblog for more as these stories develop.

Full U.S. House Considering Amendment to Further Cut NEA

Posted by Narric Rome On July - 28 - 2011

For an update on the Walberg amendment to H.R. 2584, click here!

Last night, during consideration of H.R. 2584, the House Interior Appropriations bill, debate was completed on an amendment by Rep. Tim Walberg’s (MI) to cut $10.6 million more from the National Endowment for the Arts.

Interior Subcommittee Chairman Mike Simpson (ID) gave strong support for the agency and the $135 million appropriation, urging defeat of this amendment. Thanks to coordination by the Congressional Arts Caucus, Reps. Jim Moran (VA), Louise Slaughter (NY), David Cicilline (RI), Lynn Woolsey (CA), John Yarmuth (KY), Rush Holt (NJ), Bobby Scott (VA), and Betty McCollum (MN) all gave effective and passionate speeches of support in opposing this amendment.

Today, the House will vote on the Walberg amendment. The exact timing of the vote has not yet been decided since it will part of a bloc of votes held over from yesterday’s debate.

Americans for the Arts is coordinating with Congressional Arts Caucus staff to defeat the Walberg amendment and we will update you when further action takes place.

There is still time to contact your House member in support of NEA funding.

Alec Baldwin and Nigel Lythgoe talk about the state of the arts in America at Arts Advocacy Day 2012. The acclaimed actor and famed producer discuss arts education and what inspires them.