Important Provisions in FY2014 Appropriations Bill
From: Isaac Brown, Legislative Counsel
January 17, 2014
Earlier this week, NASAA alerted you to the agreement reached to fund the federal government for the remainder of fiscal year 2014. This agreement includes an appropriation for the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) in the amount of $146.021 million. Last night, the Senate overwhelmingly approved the legislation embodying that agreement, which had already passed in the House. As a result, President Obama is expected to sign the bill into law today.
At this point, we want to bring your attention to several provisions in the appropriations bill and related language that bear specifically on state arts agency activity.
First, the budget bill contains clarification of matching requirements for states’ Partnership Agreement awards from the NEA. The law reiterates the 1:1 matching requirements for state arts agencies, noting that state matches must be comprised of nonfederal funds “directly controlled and appropriated by the State involved and directly managed by the State agency of such State.” If a state requests a waiver to this matching policy, the legislation instructs the NEA chair to “give consideration to the various circumstances the State is encountering,” further stipulating that waivers must be limited in duration and not granted in perpetuity. This policy reflects the consensus of numerous collaborative policy dialogues between the NEA, states and the NASAA board beginning in 2011. (Though, in 2012 and 2013, the House Interior Appropriations Subcommittee had requested NEA-state consultation, approved these principles, and complimented the collaborative dialogue that produced them, this year’s budget bill offered the first opportunity to ratify the agreed-upon match and waiver clarifications since 2011.)
Second, Congress has reiterated that only a state or local arts agency, or regional groups of states, can use an NEA grant to make grants to other organizations or individuals.
Third, NASAA and other arts advocacy organizations were successful in securing a separate line item in the U.S. Department of Education’s budget for arts education programs. You may recall that the president’s budget proposed merging arts education programs with other programs within the department, a provision not viewed as favorable by the arts community. In its budget, Congress chose not to implement this suggestion and, instead, will fund arts education programs at the NASAA-supported level of $25 million.
This year, Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) and House Appropriations Committee Chairman Rep. Hal Rodgers (R-KY) coauthored a joint explanatory statement that serves as Congress’s means of directing the executive branch on how Congress would like to see the funds it is appropriating used. It includes the following:
“The bill provides $146,021,000 for the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). The Committees urge the NEA to work constructively with States in developing and implementing arts education programs and priorities. . . . Any reduction in support to the States for arts education should be no more than proportional to other funding decreases taken in other NEA programs. . . .”
While not legally binding, this language conveys intent that Congress considers to be particularly important. It is the direct result of NASAA’s continued, positive relationship with lawmakers in Congress, from both parties, and we are excited about working with the NEA on arts education programs and priorities this year.
Remarkably, with the negotiations relating to the FY2014 budget resolved, members of Congress are already beginning to work on the FY2015 budget. The president will give his State of the Union Address on January 28, with Congress planning hearings soon after. As always, NASAA will keep you informed and alert you with opportunities for input and action.