2017 GENERAL ASSEMBLY SESSION CONVENES
At noon on Wednesday, January 11, 2017 the 2017 Virginia General Assembly Session convened. This year the legislature will meet for 45 days to do the business of the Commonwealth and debate amendments to the FY2017-FY2018 biennium budget. The Virginia General Assembly’s Session is set to adjourn on February 25, 2017.
VCA FUNDING AND THE BUDGET
Governor McAuliffe gave his remarks and announcement of his budget amendments on December 16, 2017. Due to better revenue numbers in the last months of 2016, the total budget shortfall was brought down to around $784.9 million. While revenues were better, cuts still needed to be recommended.
This fall the Governor announced agency cuts which included $188,088 in grant funding cuts, specifically causing cuts to the 2nd payment for GOS grants, for the Virginia Commission for the Arts for FY2017. Shortly after these cuts were announced, state agencies, including the VCA, were asked to identify additional cuts for the FY2018 budget. The VCA submitted a savings strategy of 7.5% which included eliminating waitlists for Technical Assistance, Artist Fellowship and Touring grants, eliminated ArtWorks for 2018, and capped Local Government Challenge Grants at $4,500 instead of the previous $5,000. This strategy did not include any cuts for FY2018 to GOS grants from the VCA.
The Governor’s budget included 5% cuts ($184,396) to the VCA grant budget for FY2018 but also included a transfer of $94,000 from the Virginia Arts Foundation Funds to specifically be used in FY2018 for grants allocated to arts organizations. The VCA was pleased to learn that the $94,000 contribution from the Virginia Arts Foundation would be available to offset some of the reductions. While cuts were made to VCA grants, we are happy to see that they were not cut at 7.5% as originally expected and additionally that the Governor has allowed for the VCA to utilize some of the funds from the Virginia Arts Foundation.
The next step in this process will be for the General Assembly to deliberate and make changes to the budget during the upcoming 2017 General Assembly session and finalize proposed amendments.