July 31 State Policy Update

Included in this Update

  • Extended Legislative Session
  • Economic Development Bond Bill 
  • Local Aid and State Education Funding
  • FY21 State Budget
  • Juneteenth

Extending the Formal Legislative Session
House Leadership filed an Order to extend the Formal Legislative Session past July 31 and allow the Massachusetts Legislature to meet for the rest of the calendar year in formal sessions. The Order was unanimously approved by the House, and now must be adopted by the Senate. If the Senate voted to adopt the Order, the Legislature can convene and take roll call votes until December 31, 2020. This is an historical change for the legislature that traditionally finishes all important policy bills by July 31st.  The extra time will allow for further consideration of meaningful legislation to address the impact of COVID-19 to the Commonwealth. 

Economic Development Bond Bills
On July 28, the House passed a $459 million economic development bill called An Act enabling partnerships for growth. On July 29, the Senate passed their version. Both bills include important and meaningful provision to protect arts and culture in the Commonwealth.

What’s the next step
Following the approval of the House and Senate versions of the Economic Development Bond Bill, legislative leaders must reconcile differences between the proposals in a conference committee. Between the two versions, the arts and cultural sector is allotted a total of $31M in new capital spending authorizations, as well as a statewide commission to identify further COVID-19 recovery opportunities.

We are advocating that all four provisions to protect the arts and cultural sector are included in the final bill. Send a note to your legislator today.

Local Aid and Education Funding
The legislature and the governor have committed to ensuring local municipalities and schools receive funding at last fiscal year amounts. This is especially important because school funding via Chapter 70B ensures adequate and equitable K-12 education funding in Massachusetts.   Many school districts are making difficult decisions on expenses to ensure students, teachers and staff are safe. Level state funding plus federal support for K-12 schools will help protect arts education programs that are often eliminated due to budgetary constraints.  We applaud the legislature and governor Baker for ensuring students across the Commonwealth receive a quality and safe education this fall. 

FY21 State Budget
The Mass Cultural Council published a helpful blog post about the FY21 state budget process. We encourage you to read it carefully.

The legislature sent a three month spending bill to Gov. Charlie Baker and he is expected to sign it. The bill would fund state government operations from August through October. Grant funding and programs will not be possible until the full FY21 budget is passed. As the situation stands, the legislature will have until October 31st to address FY21 spending. 

Juneteenth is officially an annual state holiday in Massachusetts. On July 24, Gov. Charlie Baker signed a supplemental COVID-19 budget bill that included a measure to establish the holiday. According to Baker, the recognition of Juneteenth reflects “the continued need to ensure racial freedom and equality.”

Advocacy Activity
On July 29, we asked our field to thank the House and Senate for their support of arts and culture in our Commonwealth. Through our voter voice system, 104 individuals sent messages to 96 legislators. Earlier this week—before the Bond Bill decisions—529 individuals sent emails to 114 state representatives. We appreciate all of your communication efforts.

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published this page in COVID-19 Updates 2020-07-31 17:51:18 -0400

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