NASAA Notes: June 2015

June 5, 2015

NEA Budget, Education Bills Status

As the month of June begins, several pieces of federal legislation of interest to arts advocates face critical tests.

NEA FY2016 Funding Amount Uncertain

It has been nearly three months since the House Appropriations Committee held a hearing to consider the fiscal year 2016 budget for the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). With the committee working at a furious pace to complete the process before the August recess, it is quite possible that the NEA budget bill could be released this week.

While great strides were made last year, when the committee unanimously voted to restore funding for the agency after earlier proposing a reduction, several factors make it difficult to predict how the committee will choose to fund the agency this year. First, this year marks the beginning of a new Congress, with new members sitting on the Appropriations Committee, and it is impossible to know how they view funding for the NEA. Fortunately, Rep. Ken Calvert (R-CA), who led the effort to restore funding, remains the chair of the committee. Second, sequestration, which requires reductions in federal spending each year, remains in law and places considerable constraints on Congress’s ability to fund increases for agencies.

Currently, the NEA is funded at $146 million, and the Obama administration has requested a funding level just shy of $149 million for next year. As soon as the funding bill is released, NASAA will be in touch with the news.

Action on Education Stalled

After making significant progress this spring, efforts to reform the nation’s preeminent education law, the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), have slowed. ESEA was last amended in 2001, when President Bush and Senate Democrats negotiated the landmark No Child Left Behind Act. That legislation expired in 2006, and efforts to amend the law since have failed. This year, with Republicans winning control of the House and Senate for the first time since 2006, both chambers have taken significant steps to pass ESEA legislation. Led by Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN), chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, S. 1177, the Every Child Achieves Act, enjoys bipartisan support and passed out of committee in April. At that time, the hope was that the bill would be on the floor for consideration by the full Senate by Memorial Day. With that date behind us, it is not clear when a vote on this bill might be called.

Throughout this process, NASAA has persisted in engaging leadership from both parties and in both chambers of Congress. Our underlying priority has been to expand opportunities for the arts throughout the nation’s public school system. We continue to urge that the arts remain identified as a core academic subject under Title I of ESEA, while seeking support for the Arts in Education program and other similar initiatives at the Department of Education. As work on this important law progresses, NASAA will continue to make the case for the arts in public education and will keep our members aware of any important developments.

In the meantime, if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to e-mail me at

In this Issue

State to State

Legislative Update

Executive Director's Column

Research on Demand




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