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 »

Sequester Cuts Cultural Agencies

Posted by Gladstone Payton On March - 4 - 2013
Gladstone Payton

Gladstone Payton

As you have no doubt been following in the headlines, specific parts of the federal budget, including that of the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), have been impacted by a budgetary control called “sequestration” beginning last Friday.

This sequester, totaling $85 billion, will reduce funding to almost all areas of domestic social programs by about 5 percent, which would mean about $7.3 million at the NEA.

This cut has been expected ever since the congressional “supercommittee” of 2011 failed to find agreement on how to achieve $1.5 trillion in deficit reduction over 10 years, either through spending cuts, raising revenue, or by a combination of both.

Since the possibility of the sequester was triggered, the White House’s Office of Management & Budget has alerted impacted federal agencies to prepare for it by withholding grant competitions, utilizing employee furloughs, reduced service, and other budget cutting actions.

Because the sequester is an “across-the-board” cut to federal agencies, it reaches indiscriminately into every identified program and activity.

The NEA, the U.S. Department of Education (which administers the federal Arts in Education program) and many other cultural agencies such as the Smithsonian, Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), and others were forced to order these cuts by 11:59 p.m. ET on March 1.  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 »

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.

NEA Takes 13 Percent Cut in FY 2012 House Budget Bill

Posted by Tim Mikulski On July - 8 - 2011

Yesterday, the U.S. House of Representatives Appropriations Interior Subcommittee approved a measure that sets next year’s initial funding level for the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) at $135 million.

That amount is a $20 million reduction as compared with this fiscal year’s budget, and it would be the deepest cut to the agency in 16 years.

To make matters worse, the 13 percent cut for both the NEA and National Endowment for the Humanities is much more severe than the 7 percent cut to the overall Interior Appropriations bill.

It is expected that the full House Appropriations Committee will consider this legislation next Tuesday and it could be sent to the full House Floor for a vote before the August recess begins.

Stay tuned to ARTSblog for more information as the budget process moves forward and please consider taking two minutes to contact your Members of Congress about this issue.

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.