According to the Maryland Citizens for the Arts Blog, “At 11:59 p.m. on Monday, April 13, the Maryland General Assembly adjourned [without assigning a day for a further meeting or hearing]! With the help of hundreds of nonprofit arts organizations and thousands of citizen advocates, Maryland Citizens for the Arts (MCA) succeeded in convincing the Maryland General Assembly to reverse the $800,000 mid-year FY 2015 cut to the State arts grant, and to restore the proposed cut of nearly $1.4 million to the FY 2016 State arts budget.”
To clarify, this means that Governor Hogan had proposed $800,000 in cuts to arts funding (as well as many other mid-year cuts) that had already been approved for 2015. This is funding that area organizations had been promised for 2015 and were counting on from the state. This cut was proposed mid-year, just after our new governor came into office.
What bothers me most is the governor cut funds that were already approved by the former administration, and that area organizations were already spending this money, counting it their 2015 fiscal budgets. I find it troubling that the first instinct of othe governor is to take away funding from organizations who are struggling with financial burdens and cutbacks, essentially breaking a promise made by the former administration and attempting to snatch back money that had already been awarded.
The good news is that the MCA, including “presiding officers, President Miller and Speaker Busch, Senate Budget & Taxation and House Appropriation committee and subcommittee chairs Sen. Kasemeyer, Sen. Madaleno, Del. McIntosh, Del. Proctor, Del. Jones, and Del. Barnes, as well as all the committee and sub-committee members” has been able to reinstate those funds, essentially keeping a promise made to arts organizations before he came into office. I am relieved that there was a bipartisan effort that succeeded to restore arts funding in Maryland and my hope is that we can expect Governor Hogan to keep fiscal commitments in the future, as long as organizations like MCA continue their efforts.
According to MCA, “These results represent a $2.2 million improvement in arts funding for the current and next fiscal years in comparison to the budget proposed in January. This also means that for FY 2016 Maryland will reach a new record level of support for the arts through the Maryland State Arts Council (MSAC).”
MCA also thanked Governor Hogan and “the leadership of the Department of Business and Economic Development for their encouragement, understanding, and appreciation of the importance of a strong arts sector in Maryland.” They plan to continue to work on behalf of artists and arts organizations “to ensure that Maryland supports and recognizes the critical role the arts play in an economically sound and culturally vibrant state.”
To find our more about the Fiscal Year 2015 Grant Restoration process, check out the MSA Blog here. Individuals can sign up as e-advocates at www.mdarts.org.