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New cuts, ‘new ideas’

Published (3/11/2010)
By Lee Ann Schutz
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Access to federal matching dollars, impact to local communities and job retention were among the guiding principles used by the House Cultural and Outdoor Resources Finance Division as it moved to cut $2.5 million from the current biennial budget of state agencies under its financial cloak.

“Unless there is a dramatic turnaround, the challenge we face this year will only be magnified in the next biennium,” said Rep. Mary Murphy (DFL- Hermantown), division chairwoman.

The overall budget reduction averaged about 3 percent. Murphy encouraged the various agencies to seek “opportunities for non-state revenue,” such as new public/private partnerships, user fees and online merchandising agreements.

A successful delete-all amendment to HF 3015 transformed the bill that originally supported placeholder language for the Minnesota Film and TV Board into the omnibus cultural and outdoor resources supplemental budget bill. Approved by the division, it now moves to the House Finance Committee. The companion, SF2931, is sponsored by Sen. Richard Cohen (DFL-St. Paul). It awaits action by the Senate Finance Committee.

Although agencies, including the Minnesota Historical Society, the Minnesota State Arts Board and public broadcasting would see a decrease in General Fund appropriations in the bill, they are recipients of funds from the increase in the sales tax constitutionally dedicated for arts and culture ventures. However, there is a legal question as to whether the dedicated funds can be used to fill in any General Fund appropriation gap. Murphy said the proposed cuts do not test the concept. “Just as the constitutional amendment presented new ideas, our budget situation provides opportunity to work collaboratively, and may allow us to explore new ways to support our priorities,” she said.

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