NASAA Notes: March 2017

March 14, 2017

Awaiting Trump's Budget Request

After months of speculation, President Trump and his administration are expected to release their first budget request for fiscal year 2018 this week.The release of any new administration’s first budget is highly anticipated and there is wide-ranging speculation about what budget actions the Trump administration will recommend.

As a staunch supporter of the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and of arts funding across the federal budget, we at NASAA stand with you in anticipation of the budget’s release. It is our hope that the President does not, as some reports have indicated, call for significant cuts or an outright elimination of the NEA. In the event, however, that that is the President’s request, please consider these important points:

  1. The President’s budget request is in no way a binding document. It is the means through which the executive branch communicates its preference for how federal funds are allocated. Congress has the constitutional responsibility to appropriate federal funding for agencies.
  2. As a result, in recent years, the budget proposal, regardless of the party in control of the White House, has become more of a political document than a policy document. Recent presidents have tended to use the budget proposal as a means of highlighting overarching long-term goals rather than specific policies they hope to implement in the next fiscal year.
  3. The NEA has strong, bipartisan support in Congress. The importance of this should not be ignored. As recently as two weeks ago, in response to strong testimony in support of the NEA from a Democratic member of the Appropriations Subcommittee (which has jurisdiction over the NEA’s budget), Subcommittee Chair Rep. Ken Calvert (R-CA) responded, “As you know, there’s always been bipartisan support for these programs and I suspect that there will be in the future, too.”

When the budget is released later this week, NASAA will be prepared with information about the request and how state arts agencies can most effectively respond. Ideally, we will be strategizing about how to raise funding for the NEA, but in the event we are dealing with significant threat, please know that we are ready to engage on your behalf.