Power of Culture Blog
New legislation would create a $200M COVID-19 relief and stabilization fund using federal funds.
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In late May we provided an update on the FY21 State Budget, and noted that due to economic challenges created by COVID-19 the Legislature was unable to follow its usual timeline for developing the state’s operating budget. Consequently, Mass Cultural Council, an independent state agency that is funded primarily through state budget dollars, was unable to develop its FY21 spending plan, causing many of our annual grant programs to be placed on temporary hold.
Fiscal Year 21 began on July 1, 2020 without a new state budget in place. State government operations continued during the month of July, supported by a one-month interim budget bill. On July 28, the House and Senate quickly enacted another interim budget, this time funding state government for a period of three months: August, September, and October 2020. This interim budget bill, H. 4905, is now on Governor Baker’s desk. He has ten days to review and act on this bill.
When announcing the three-month interim budget the House and Senate Ways and Means Committee Chairs publicly reaffirmed their desire to produce a complete FY21 budget bill, and expressed the need to understand how much federal assistance will be available to Massachusetts to responsibly build that budget. If the Governor signs H. 4905 into law, the Legislature will need to produce another budget bill (either interim or full fiscal year) before the end of October to keep state government operations open.
What does all of this mean for Mass Cultural Council grantees and stakeholders?
As a state agency, a clear understanding of our FY21 state funding is necessary before we can build a FY21 spending plan and submit it to our governing Council for approval. Working under an interim budget does not allow us to properly account or predict state funding that will be available over the next 11 months.
For the next three months our grant programs will continue to be on hold. We will work quickly with our governing Council to develop a spending plan as soon as a FY21 state budget is signed into law. Until then our program staff will continue to focus on delivering robust services, convening stakeholders remotely, and working with our partners like MASSCreative and Mass Humanities to advocate effectively – and with passion – on behalf of the cultural sector on Beacon Hill.
If you have questions about a Mass Cultural Council program timeline, please contact a member of our staff for further information.