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Senate Ways & Means FY21 Budget Recommendation Shows Continued Enthusiastic Support for Cultural Sector

Bethann Steiner, Public Affairs Director

This week our partners on Beacon Hill continue to make progress on the Fiscal Year 2021 state budget. This morning the state House of Representatives convened virtually for Day 2 of their budget debate, and this afternoon the Senate Committee on Ways & Means released its spending recommendations for FY21. Mass Cultural Council is thankful to again receive a level funding recommendation, equal to $18,180,000 – the same amount of funding the Agency received from the FY20 state budget, and consistent with the House’s FY21 recommendation.

Mass Cultural Council is extremely grateful to Senate President Spilka, Chair Rodrigues, Chair Kennedy, the Members of Senate Ways & Means, the Cultural Caucus, and all our partners in the Senate for their continued support and leadership.

What comes next?

While a few House budget amendments are still pending that may edit the Agency’s line item if adopted, and Senate Members have until 10:00pm Friday, November 13 to file their amendments to the Senate Ways & Means budget proposal, it appears extremely likely that Mass Cultural Council will be level funded at $18.2M in FY21. Together with our partners at MASSCreative, we will continue to monitor the budget debate in both Chambers. However, as with the House, we do not intend to seek any amendments to the Senate proposal.

The Senate will begin its budget debate next Tuesday, Nov. 17. When both Chambers finish their budget debates a final, compromise budget document must be developed from the final House and final Senate budget bills. Usually this is done by a six-member Conference Committee. The good news is that if both Chambers retain identical language and funding amount for the Agency’s line item, it is “not conference-able,” or subject to negotiations by the Conference Committee.

Once the conference budget is enacted by both Chambers it will go to the Governor. As with any bill, the Governor has 10 days to review and act on it. It has been widely reported that Governor Baker would like to receive a budget bill from the House and Senate by Thanksgiving; it appears the two Chambers are working hard to meet this date.

It is time to say thank you.

For Mass Cultural Council to receive level funding recommendations from both Chambers in FY21, during a very challenging budget year and amid a pandemic, is extremely meaningful. We know from our COVID impact surveys that the cultural sector – including creative individuals and cultural organizations statewide – is in desperate need of recovery assistance. Our partners on Beacon Hill in both the House and Senate have heard your stories and acted accordingly to provide relief. Our Advocacy campaign is working. Thank you for your continued engagement in the process.

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

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