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House Ways & Means FY21 Budget Recommendation Invests $18.2M into the Cultural Sector

Bethann Steiner, Public Affairs Director

The long-awaited state budget process for Fiscal Year 2021 (which began on July 1) is starting to advance.

Today the House Committee on Ways & Means released its Fiscal Year 2021 budget recommendation, which includes a $18,180,000 investment in the cultural sector through the Mass Cultural Council. This figure represents a level funding recommendation for the Agency with the previous fiscal year.

On October 21 Mass Cultural Council submitted submitted testimony to the House and Senate Committees on Ways & Means regarding the Governor’s Revised FY21 H2 budget, encouraging a robust state investment in arts and culture to support COVID recovery across the cultural sector.  Mass Cultural Council is extremely grateful to Speaker DeLeo, Chair Michlewitz, Chair McMurtry, the Members of House Ways & Means, the Cultural Caucus, and all our partners in the House of Representatives for their continued support.

What Happens Next?

The House of Representatives is scheduled to begin its FY21 budget debate next week, on Tuesday, November 10. While Mass Cultural Council will not be seeking any amendments to the House Ways & Means budget proposal, we will, together with our statewide advocacy partner MASSCreative, monitor the status of any amendments filed that may be of interest or concern.

When the House debate is complete the final House budget will advance to the Senate Committee on Ways & Means for review. The Senate Ways & Means Committee will then release its own budget proposal, which must be debated by the full Senate. Any differences between the final House and Senate budgets must be settled, usually by a 6-member Conference Committee, before it can be enacted and sent to the Governor’s desk.

Governor Charlie Baker previously indicated his preference that the Legislature send him a FY21 budget by Thanksgiving. This week House Speaker DeLeo stated that he believes this deadline can be met.

18.2 Million Reasons to Say Thank You

For Mass Cultural Council to receive a level funding recommendation in FY21, during a global pandemic that has financially devastated the economy – including our cultural sector – is truly significant. FY21 is a very difficult budget year. The annual state budget has been delayed for months as policymakers struggled to understand the impacts of COVID-19 on the Commonwealth’s revenue sources, as well as what, if any, federal aid might be forthcoming.

Since March Mass Cultural Council has surveyed the sector four times to understand the economic impacts of COVID-19 and communicated to the Legislature the dire need to invest in recovery measures to support the Commonwealth’s creative individuals and cultural nonprofits.

Your stories have been heard. Today’s recommendation by House Ways & Means show that the power of culture is understood and embraced on Beacon Hill.

Please take a minute to email your State Representative and thank them. Tell them why arts and culture are important to you, and that you hope they will support the House Ways & Means’ spending recommendation of $18.2M for Mass Cultural Council in the Final House FY21 Budget.

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