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Senate Budget Update

Thank you to the many Network members who responded to Monday’s Call to Action. We thought you would want to see the update below, especially the news that legislators took note of your many phone calls and e-mails. They have learned—in case they didn’t already know—that we’re paying attention.

Please note that this is just an update; we’re not asking you to take any action at this time. In order to be as effective as possible, our action needs to be coordinated and consistent. We’ll be sure to pass along the next Call to Action as soon as we receive it, and we’re pleased and proud to know how many Network writers will be sure to answer that call.

Sincerely,

Ed Southern
Executive Director
North Carolina Writers’ Network
ed@ncwriters.org

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NC General Assembly Senate House

NC General Assembly

From our friends at ARTS North Carolina:

On late Sunday evening, the Senate released its Biennium budget for 2013-2015. The North Carolina Arts Council’s grants programs were significantly targeted for reductions along with cuts to the NC Museum of Art while other agencies within Cultural Resources were left unscathed. In the first year, North Carolina Arts Council grants would be reduced by $500,000R and Administration by $250,000R; in the second year the grants would be reduced by an additional $280,380R.

The Senate General Government Committee was scheduled to “hear” the budget at 4pm on Monday. Advocates with members on the committee and big budget chairs were responsive and dynamic in their phone calls to Legislative offices requesting an explanation in the committee meeting for the disproportionate and debilitating cuts, and we thank you for doing your job so well. Legislators commented about the many calls they received.

The budget was a “done deal” by the time it was released on Sunday night. Word was out that “no amendments will be taken.” The Senate General Government budget includes money to implement tax reform, and because tax reform is far from certain, General Government Chair Tommy Tucker indicated there would likely be “more money” later in the budget process. He also advised us to look to the House to restore the funding.

As of today’s update, there is no explanation or plausible reason for the intentional and targeted cuts. Senate leadership continues to blame “Medicaid surprises” for the cuts which would be reasonable except revenues are up and the bottom line of the budget grew by 2.3%. No explanation has been given for why the cuts to the department could not be fairly applied across the board or why the Secretary was not given “management flexibility” to determine where cuts would be made.

Consider this fact: The entire cut to the Department of Cultural Resources was $692,000 in the first year. The cuts to the North Carolina Arts Council were $750,000. How can this math be correct? Money is simply reallocated to other agencies within Cultural Resources, and the Secretary was not consulted on the allocations.

If the Senate cuts were allowed to stand, the North Carolina Arts Council will have sustained a 37% reduction in per capita allocation since 2008-2009. While other states began their battles with extreme bills or gubernatorial mandates that eliminated their arts councils, North Carolina is experiencing a slow and debilitating dismantling of public support for the arts across the state. Arts North Carolina will no longer take a complacent and understanding position about the state’s economic woes. We must bring the force of our reach and the passion and facts of our industry to restoring this funding.

You can be absolutely certain that Arts North Carolina will not quit to the day the Governor signs the budget. Please make advocacy a priority in the next six weeks and follow each and every Call to Action.

While our office is reluctant to send multiple “urgent” Call to Action alerts, you can expect that at least three more wholesale actions will be necessary in the budget process.

Please follow the timing and directions…if we ask you to phone, take that action.

If we ask you to write a hard copy letter, take that action.

One of our strategies will be to seek their attention from different directions and at strategic points in the budget process.

Stay tuned. The war is far from over. And please be reminded that we have changed the outcome before and we will again. One person at a time.

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