85th Texas Legislative Session – Updates!

Apr 20, 2017

 

*   Texas Commission on the Arts – Saved with Your Help – But More Help Needed Ahead!

Thank you all for letting our
Texas legislators know that you, their constituents, value the Texas Commission on the Arts (TCA) and support the full appropriation to enable the TCA to continue to provide public resources for the arts across the state!
Your voice made a difference!

On April 6th, during the Texas House budget deliberations, Rep. Tony Tinderholt (R-Arlington) put forth an Amendment to eliminate all funding for the Texas Commission on the Arts. Texans for the Arts,working with the Texas Cultural Trust and YOU our members, pulled out all stops to ensure the Amendment was defeated, which it was 115-32. An additional Amendment by Rep. Pat Fallon (R-Frisco) would have cut an additional $5 Million from the TCA’s budget and that was pulled from consideration.  Without your help, this success would not have happened!

For a complete list of legislators who stood up for the TCA click here (pp1136-1137)!

If you have not yet thanked your legislator, click here, to send them a “thank you!”

* Advocating for Full Funding for the Texas Commission on the Arts

Now we need your help again!
The Texas Senate and House budgets have been passed and they still do not include full funding for the Texas Commission on the Arts!

The Texas Senate passed its Budget Bill on March 29th for $218 Billion by a vote of 31-0.  The total appropriation for the Texas Commission on the Arts is $12,031,609 for the biennium, a 32% reduction from the 84th Session, which includes ZERO for the Cultural &Fine Arts District grant program and a reduction of $723,917 for arts education.

On April 6th, the Texas House passed its Budget Bill for $218 Billion by a vote of 131-16.  The total appropriation for the Texas Commission on the Arts is $12,755,526  for the biennium, a 28% reduction from the 84th Session, which also includes ZERO for the Cultural & Fine Arts District grant program.  There are, however, four “Riders”, one Amendment, and one additional line item for $5 million in what is called “Article 11” – a holding place of sorts to potentially draw funds for the Cultural & Fine Arts District Program.

* Next Steps – Budget Conference Committee:

Our final and all important opportunity to restore full funding to the Texas Commission on the Arts will be in the hands of the Budget Conference Committee.

This Committee will be made up of five Senators:
– Senator Jane Nelson (R-Flower Mound);
– Senator Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa (D-McAllen);
– Senator Joan Huffman (R-Houston);
– Senator Lois Kolkhorst (R-Brenham);
– Senator Charles Schwertner (R-Georgetown);
and will be joined by five Representatives, yet to be appointed.

These ten leaders will spend the next 2-3 weeks reviewing the Senate/House budgets line-by-line in an effort to draft one budget that will hopefully be approved by both the Senate and House.  This is our last chance to restore full funding to the Texas Commission on the Arts !

KEEP YOUR EYES PEELED FOR OUR NEXT ACTION ALERTS!!  
We will  connect you with the Senate Conferees and next week with the House Conferees!  They need to hear from us and become our champions for the arts!

* HOT Reporting  – Texans for the Arts’ first Bills – SB 1221 and HB 3280

Texans for the Arts thanks Senator Kirk Watson (D-14) and his staff for successfully shepherding our first Bill – Senate Bill 1221 – through a Senate vote “yes” today!  And thank you, Representative Gina Hinojosa (D-49) for sponsoring the companion bill –  House Bill 3280 – and shepherding it through its first hearing in House Ways & Means this morning, April 19th.

These important bills amend ‘CHAPTER 351. Municipal Hotel Occupancy Tax Code’ (HOT) to require much needed reporting of data to tax payers (and us!).  Texans for the Arts leads the way statewide in advocating for municipaliites to utilize the full “up to 15%” provision for the arts.  We receive frequent requests for information about HOT and the arts, yet have not had easy access to comprehensive data about how communities use the HOT!  Our goal is to have accurate data to share, and best practices and positive models to share with you – our arts leaders across the state – to work with municipal leaders to grow the public resources for the arts in your communities. Thank you Senator Watson and Representative Hinojosa for providing the leadership on these Bills!