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PA State Budget Takes Effect Today - What Does It Mean for Arts & Culture?

After final passage by the State House of Representatives and Senate on July 1, a $31.6 billion spending plan automatically became law at midnight yesterday, July 11, without the signature of Governor Tom Wolf, providing an earlier-than-expected end to a potential repeat of the 2016 budget stalemate.

By refusing to sign the bill but not vetoing it, Governor Wolf started a ten-day clock in which he hoped to receive a sufficient revenue bill that would complement the budget. Lawmakers in both the House and the Senate disagree on the specifics of how the plan will be funded; it features an additional $200 million for public education and $10 million for opiate abuse initiatives, both of which are less than the Governor has proposed. 

Funding for the arts in the 2017 budget includes:

  • $9.59 million for Grants to the Arts (level funding)
  • $964,000 for Council on the Arts, an increase of $72,000
  • $19.927 million for PHMC (Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission) General Government support, an increase of $781,000
  • $2 million for PHMC's Cultural and Historical Grants program (level funding)

Members of the House and Senate passed this budget in the final hours before the June 30 deadline, which was a significant departure from the nine-month delay that saw non-profit organizations around the state suffer from lessened or a total loss of funds. One 2015 survey by the United Way of Pennsylvania of such groups found that nearly fifty responding organizations were forced to furlough or lay off employees and that more than 500 employees within those organizations lost access to employee benefits.