08-26-2013: As a part of the College, Career, and Citizenship Readiness Coalition, Americans for the Arts has signed onto a letter to Senators Harkin (D-IA) and Alexander (R-TN) in support of the language in the Strengthening America’s Schools Act (S.1094), which supports a well-rounded education.
07-31-2013: U.S. House Appropriations Committee began consideration of the FY 2014 Interior funding bill, which includes a proposed 49% cut in funding to the National Endowment for the Arts. An amendment to restore the funding to the NEA was defeated along a party-line vote of 19-27, and the committee recesses for August before finishing their work on the bill.
07-23-2013: The U.S. House Interior Appropriations Subcommittee approves its initial FY 2014 funding legislation, which includes a proposed cut of $71 million to the National Endowment for the Arts bringing the funding level down to $75 million.
07-11-2013: As a part of the Charitable Giving Coalition, Americans for the Arts signed a letter urging Chairman Baucus (D-MT) and Ranking Member Hatch (R-UT) to preserve the charitable tax deduction as it currently stands in light of the recently released “blank-slate” tax reform plan. This plan proposes to jump start the tax reform overhaul by putting everything on the table and starting with a blank slate, until senators submit a detailed justification to the benefits of the special preferences they think should be added back in.
06-19-2013: The U.S. House Education and Workforce Committee approved education reform legislation introduced by Chairman John Kline (R-MN). Ranking Member George Miller (D-CA) proposed a substitute amendment which included several new pro-arts provisions that failed along a party-line vote.
06-12-2013: The Senate education committee passed S.1094, the “Strengthening America’s Schools Act” introduced by Chairman Tom Harkin, by a vote of 12-10. This bill includes a number of positive developments for arts education. Find more details here.
06-04-2013: Senate Education Chairman Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Ranking Member Lamar Alexander (R-TN) introduced separate legislation to reauthorize the Elementary & Secondary Education Act. The bills pursue divergent solutions to approaching Title I funding for disadvantaged students, teacher evaluation, student assessment and providing for a well-rounded curriculum that includes the arts.
04-25-2013: In the Senate, Sen. Tom Udall (D-NM) led efforts on a "Dear Colleague Letter" supporting $154 million for both the NEA and NEH. The final Senate letter has 26 signers.
04-19-2013: Led by Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-NY) in the House, a "Dear Colleague Letter" urging legislators to support $154.466 for the NEA in FY 2014 is submitted. The final House letter received 95 signatories.
04-17-2013: Sheila Smith, Executive Director of Minnesota Citizens for the Arts and member of Americans for the Arts, testified in support of the National Endowment for the Arts before the U.S. House of Representatives Interior Appropriations Subcommittee. Read Sheila's testimony requesting $154.466 million in funding for the NEA.
04-10-2013: The Obama Administration released its FY14 Budget Request with proposed increases for the nation’s cultural agencies over last year’s appropriated levels. The National Endowment for the Arts proposed funding goes from $146.3 million to $155.5. Other agencies and programs saw modest increases as well with the Office of Museum Services receiving a $2 million bump to $32.9 million and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting staying level-funded at $445 million.
04-09-2013: Americans for the Arts, in conjunction with 87 national organizations, hosted the 2013 National Arts Advocacy Day. More than 500 arts advocates from across the country held meetings with congressional offices in support of the arts. Acclaimed musician and arts educator Yo-Yo Ma delivered the 26th Annual Nancy Hanks Lecture on Arts and Public Policy at the Kennedy Center. Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) was given the 2013 Congressional Arts Leadership Award. See highlights from the events here.
03-22-2013: Congress approves the final FY 2013 Continuing Resolution, averting a government-wide shutdown and keeping in place the 5 percent sequester cuts for the cultural agencies, including the NEA, for the remainder of the fiscal year.
03-14-2013: The U.S. House and Senate release their FY 2014 budget resolutions.These resolutions are non-binding and do not require the signature of the president to pass, but they do provide instructions that will guide the appropriations process and inform the upcoming tax debates.
03-01-2013: The 5 percent sequester cuts took affect across the federal government, meaning cuts of about $7 million each for the National Endowment for the Arts and National Endowment for the Humanities, $12 million for the Institute of Museum and Library Services, and $22 million for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Read the administration's official report on implementation of the sequester and our ARTSblog post on the effects for cultural agencies.
02-26-2013: Reps. Suzanne Bonamici and Aaron Schock hold a briefing to launch the STEAM Caucus (science, technology, arts/design, and math) promoting a policy which seeks “to increase understanding of the importance of arts and design to STEM subjects, to spread the word about STEAM, and to prioritize STEAM education” in the House of Representatives. According to a House of Representatives Dear Colleague letter of support, the caucus will be comprised of elected officials who believe that “in the past several years, there has been a great deal of talk about STEM education.We need to cultivate our future workforce in these fields in order to maintain and increase U.S. global competitiveness. But what policymakers often do not acknowledge, or do not know, is the importance of arts and design to STEM.”
02-14-2013: The U.S. House Ways and Means Committee held a hearing to examine the itemized deduction for charitable contributions as part of the Committee’s work on comprehensive tax reform. More than 40 witnesses provided examples of the community benefits that the charitable deduction supports. The full witness list and testimony is available here.
02-01-2013: Congress has passed the "No Budget, No Pay" Act (H.R. 325), which extends the nation's debt ceiling through May 18. As part of the legislation, each chamber is required to pass a budget by April 15 or have its members face a suspension of pay. The temporary postponement of the debt limit allows for Congress to focus on other federal spending issues, including the looming March 1 deadline for the enactment of sequestration cuts and the March 27 expiration of the current continuing resolution, which is keeping the government operational at the previous year's levels.
01-30-2013: A bipartisan team of members of Congress have launched the Congressional STEAM Caucus. The STEAM Caucus, a popular acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math, which "aims to change the vocabulary of education to recognize the benefits of both the arts and sciences—and their intersections—to our country's future generations. Caucus members will work to increase awareness of the importance of STEAM education and explore new strategies to advocate for STEAM programs." The Caucus is led by Representatives Suzanne Bonamici (D–OR) and Aaron Schock (R–IL).
01-02-2013: President Obama signs the American Tax Payer Relief Act of 2012 making permanent the Bush-Obama tax cuts for earners making below the income threshold of $400,000 (individuals) and $450,000 (families). While not the large grand bargain that would have established comprehensive tax reform and changes to dramatic sequester spending cuts, the legislation averts marginal tax rates being raised on 98% of the taxpayers. Most importantly for the nonprofit arts community, the last minute bargain did not include caps on the value of itemized deductions which possibly could have had a direct impact on charitable giving to the arts. Reinstatement of the Personal Exemption Phaseout (PEP) and Pease provision (which lowers the value of most itemized deductions for yearly earners in the $250,000 individual, $300,000 family income thresholds) was also included in the compromise. A series of budget maneuvers will delay the sequester for two months as leaders continue to work on issues surrounding increasing the debt limit, tax reform and long term spending decisions.