On June 1, 2023, in Executive Session, the Joint Committee on Finance took up Tourism and the Arts Board 2023-2025 Biennial Budget. You may go to the Wisconsin Eye link below to view the whole meeting. (A free registration may be required.) The meeting begins at 2:35, and the Tourism and Arts Board discussion begins at 29:32.
The meeting was originally scheduled to begin at 1 pm. Just prior to that start time a new, 3 pm start time was announced. It was later announced that the meeting would begin at 4 pm.
Joint Committee on Finance Meeting 6/1/23
Omnibus Motion #84 included this language for the Arts Board:
Around 4 pm, Committee Co-Chair Senator Howard Marklein called the meeting to order. The meeting began with a discussion of the Public Service Commission's budget, and then it was time to discuss Tourism and the Arts Board. Co-Chair Marklein recognized Representative Evan Goyke (D-Milwaukee) to introduce the minority party's motion, which was seconded by Senator LaTonya Johnson (D-Milwaukee).
5. Arts Board Fund Matching (Paper #754). Adopt Alternatives 1b and 2b, which would provide $407,200 GPR to match federal grant awards through September, 2024, and $366,900 GPR to match estimated federal awards in fiscal year 2025.
Representative Goyke said the following in support of this motion:
"We have set aside the bare minimum [for the arts]. The bare minimum to receive the national match and I think we can do a lot better than the bare minimum. I think we can do a lot better, and Wisconsin would be better for that."
Representative Goyke pointed to the Wormfarm Institute in Reedsburg and Princeton, WI, as two examples of where the impacts of the arts are visible. He went on to say, "Arts are a critical part of who we are. Young, old, in between it (the arts) defines so many of our communities, so many of our neighborhoods. It's an outward expression of our culture and is worthy of our increased investment. ...the return on investment is major. For a small dollar amount there is such a huge, leveraged return."
After Senator Johnson spoke about the importance of Tourism, Co-Chair Marklein asked the Committee Clerk to call the roll. Omnibus Motion #84 failed along party lines: 4 – 12.
Co-Chair Marklein then introduced the majority party's motion – moved by Senator Joan Ballweg (R-Markesan) and seconded by Alex Dallman (R-Green Lake) – and asked the Legislative Fiscal Bureau to inform the Committee about the motion.
7. Arts Board Fund Matching (Paper #754). Adopt Alternative 1b to provide $407,200 GPR in 2023-24 to match federal grant awards through September, 2024. Provide $259,100 in 2024-25 as an ongoing base increase for state aid for the arts.
Representative Dallman spoke on the motion. Senator Ballweg then spoke of her long commitment to making sure the Arts Board could meet the NEA match. She said the following about the FY 25 match and spoke directly to the Arts Board as to why the motion sought to secure the federal match:
“If it [FY 25] doesn't match up, if there is some additional federal money that comes, we're open to making sure that we can meet that federal match. I think the effort here is to say to the Arts Board that the funding is secure. That we want to make sure that we match what the National Endowment is going to be providing so that you can do your planning moving forward."
When Senator Ballweg completed her remarks, Co-Chair Marklein asked the Committee Clerk to call the roll. The motion carried along party lines: 12-4.
What Does It All Mean?
- There was bipartisan support for meeting the required NEA match. Both omnibus motions secured the match for FY 23 and FY 24.
- Should the approved language be in the final version of the budget, we can rescind the current 13.10 request and distribute the FY 23 awards as soon as the Governor signs the budget.
- It also means that we can plan for FY 24 without having to submit a 13.10 request.
- Both parties provided funding towards the FY 25 match. The omnibus motion that was adopted would maintain the FY 24 increase to the base in FY 25.
- The importance of the arts and the leveraging power of Arts Board grants were stressed by lawmakers.
The Joint Committee on Finance will soon wrap up its work on their version of the budget, which will then go to the Assembly and Senate. Each body must approve the budget. If the Assembly and Senate versions of the budget are the same, the final bill heads to the Governor's desk for his approval. In the past, the Governor has had up to two weeks for his review and line-item vetoes prior to his signature. If the legislative versions of the budget are not the same, a conference committee will be formed to reconcile the different versions.
Technically, all of this should be done so the new biennial budget is in place on July 1st, the beginning of the new fiscal year. Please note that if the deadline is missed, state government doesn't shut down like the federal government would. State government continues its work based on the previous year's budget until the new budget is signed.
Finally, thanks to Governor Evers for his initial proposals and the members of the Joint Committee on Finance for their action. Thanks also to the members of the Arts Board, Tourism Secretary Anne Sayers and Communications Director Craig Trost, Create Wisconsin, and the many new advocates who raised their voices in support of the arts and the Wisconsin Arts Board.