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House & Senate FY21 Budget Debates Conclude; Level Funding Secured

Bethann Steiner, Public Affairs Director

Legislature Invests $18.2M into Cultural Sector through Mass Cultural Council

As of 10:30pm last night both the state House of Representatives and Senate have concluded their FY21 budget deliberations. Now it will be up to a Conference Committee to negotiate a final FY21 spending plan by ironing out any differences between the House and Senate final budgets.

A Fortunate Position

Most of the state’s investment into arts and culture is made through the Mass Cultural Council’s line item account in the annual state budget. This year the Agency finds itself in the very fortunate position of not being subject to the conference process.

Because both the $18,180,000 appropriation amount and the text contained within the Agency’s line item are identical in the House and Senate budgets, Mass Cultural Council’s FY21 budget account is “non-conferencable.” The text and amount contained in the House and Senate budget bills will be retained in the FY21 conference budget.

What Comes Next?

Once the conference budget is enacted by the House and Senate it will go to Governor Baker, who has 10 days to review and act upon it. Because it is a “money bill” the Governor can make line item vetoes and recommend other changes to the budget. Mass Cultural Council will continue to monitor the budget process and work with MASSCreative to urge the Governor to approve our budget line item, as he did last year.

While there is no deadline for the Conference Committee to complete its work (except the end of the legislative session at the end of the calendar year), the Governor, House, and Senate leaders have all conveyed an urgent need to complete this process so they can turn their focus to the FY22 budget.

What this means for Mass Cultural Council programs and services

In a “normal” budget year most of Mass Cultural Council’s annual grant programs would launch in the late summer and fall.  However, while FY21 began on July 1 the Agency had to wait for its state appropriation to build its FY21 spending plan, which must be submitted to our governing Council for approval. This means most of our grant programs have been temporarily on hold since July. Now that there is clarity on our FY21 state appropriation, the Agency can finalize its FY21 spending plan and submit it for Council review and approval.

We anticipate the Council will meet to approve the Agency’s FY21 spending plan in early January, which will allow our program teams to officially launch their grant programs. We will face a quick turnaround as FY21 monies must be spent by June 30.

Please sign up to receive our Power of Culture e-newsletter or follow the Agency on social media (@MassCultural) to receive updates on funding opportunities, upcoming webinars, and other professional services available to the cultural sector that our teams will introduce in the New Year.

Thank you.

Mass Cultural Council acknowledges the significance of receiving level funding from both Chambers, without any amendments, in this very challenging economic time. The Agency is deeply appreciative of the support and investment into the cultural sector from our legislative partners and looks forward to continued collaborations with the Baker-Polito Administration, the House of Representatives, and the Massachusetts Senate to secure future public investment we know to be necessary for the cultural sector to recover from the economic impact of COVID-19.

If you have not already done so, please take a moment to email your State Representative and State Senator, and thank them for their support of the cultural sector in the FY21 state budget.

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