A couple of days ago the Vermont House Appropriations Committee voted the Appropriations bill out of committee, and the Arts Council was recommended for an increase of $100,000 to $607,607.
While some reading this post might be tempted to be upset or disillusioned by this reduction to the Governor's recommended increase, the truth is that was the second act of a four-act drama that comprises the 2013 legislative season—at the end of which we hope to end up with an increase of $210,000, not $100,000. So for now, my message to all of you supporting our efforts to increase support for the arts in Vermont is a very huge and heartfelt “Thank You!”
Arguing on behalf of the arts when so many important programs are seeing large reductions is difficult in the best of circumstances. That we all have, thus far, convinced the Governor and the House that an increase is necessary (the question is now not “whether?” but “how much?”), is an incredibly important hurdle to have overcome in what is being reported as the most contentious budget battle in recent memory.
There are two more acts before this year's show is over. Attention first turns to the Senate Appropriations Committee who needs to hear from you that you support the Governor’s recommendation of $210,000 before it votes out its own version of the Appropriations bill in a few weeks’ time. Of vital importance is to communicate to this body of key legislators that, as it stands now, the House's recommendation will not even allow us to draw down the Federal funds that we have coming to us.
Every Senator on the committee represents dozens, if not hundreds of artists, and several, if not dozens of arts organizations. They also represent teachers, entrepreneurs, planners, designers, and a host of others whose lives and communities are significantly impacted every day by the arts. Drop them each a note (remember to cc firstname.lastname@example.org) sharing your hopes that they will support the Governor’s recommendation.
The final act, during which we will have a final chance to sway the Legislature's decision on our appropriation, is during the conference committee when three House and three Senate members duke it out. But let’s cross that bridge in a month.
For now, let’s take a breath, remind ourselves--again!--that the House’s recommendation will not allow us to draw down the full amount of Federal funds that we expect to have coming to us, and turn our attention to the Vermont Senate.On to Act III...
(break a leg!)