Issued by Christine Drazan, Executive Director at Oregon Cultural Advocacy Coalition and Craig Campbell, Lobbyist, on May 26, 2017.
As we move into this Memorial Day weekend, we only have five weeks remaining in the Oregon Legislative Session. The process has narrowed the policy and spending bills that still have the opportunity to move. This narrowing of legislative measures allows the legislature to move noncontroversial policy bills early in the session and following the revenue forecast, shift their full attention to issues around the budget shortfall and discussions of new transportation and business taxes. Priority legislation for the cultural community is likely to remain in committee until these larger issues are resolved.
BALANCING THE BUDGET
The May Revenue Forecast was released on May 16th. 2017-2019 budgets are based on this forecast, and now that it has been released, the legislature will begin to finalize budgets and advance discussions around new revenues needed to limit cuts as they work to balance the state budget.
The Cultural Advocacy Coalition continues to lobby to restore funding for the Oregon Arts Commission and is supporting a package of endorsed capital construction projects in the cultural sector. Many proposals over the session to address the larger issues of balancing the budget and raising revenues have had the potential to harm the cultural sector. We have worked hard to ensure these issues are understood in their larger context as proposals that would harm the nonprofit sector broadly and would damage access to the arts in Oregon.
The session has been a whirlwind, and the final five weeks will be intense. The Coalition’s priority legislation is listed below. And, you can keep up-to-date on legislation we are tracking by visiting the Take Action section of our website.
- Restore state-level cuts to the Oregon Arts Commission—HB5025
- $272,000 proposed cut expected to be implemented by the OAC through a 30% cut in operating support grants
- Support continuation of capital investments in cultural projects statewide—HB5530
- $6 million in lottery bonds requested for construction projects in Cave Junction, Bend, Corvallis, Newport, Portland, Eugene and Cottage Grove that support economic development in the cultural sector.
- Establish a Task Force on Equitable Access to Arts Education—SB313
- The legislature’s first ever arts education task force is charged with quantifying existing access to arts education; identifying barriers to equity and recommending changes needed to encourage access to the arts within a well-rounded education
Restored funding for the Oregon Arts Commission and the appointment of an arts education task force will be difficult to achieve without substantial grassroots advocacy. If you have not already contacted your own legislators, please do so here. Thank you if you were among the many who sent a message to your legislator this month. Nearly 300 messages went out to 70 legislators, but we need to continue to keep the pressure on! When you click on the link to send your message, please personalize the intro and/or close to your email if you can—the more local and personalized your message is, the greater the impact.
ARTS AND CULTURE ADVOCACY DAY
Once again, thank you, to the many advocates who joined the Coalition for Arts and Culture Advocacy Day. Legislator meetings were plentiful and productive. It is so valuable when stakeholders take the time out of their schedules to connect as engaged constituents. With your help, we will continue to fight to ensure Oregon culture is preserved and protected in this session’s challenging budget environment.
Coalition members make this work possible. Your support defends fine art from harmful taxes, advances the conversation to address equitable access to arts education and fights for full funding for Oregon’s cultural sector.
For those of you who reading this but are not yet members of the Coalition, I hope you will take a moment to join. Individual memberships range from $50-$500 and can even be set up online with a monthly contribution that fits your budget. $5 a month or a $500 gift today—both memberships help keep the Coalition at the table on your behalf and sustain advocacy for arts and culture.
Thank you for your membership support and for your commitment to the growth and health of the cultural sector in Oregon.