Budget conference: House, Senate $30M apart on Cultural and Museum Grants Program
Thomas Armour Youth Ballet performance still.

Thomas Armour Youth Ballet
'Take a deep breath. ... Chin up. Everyone is doing great and it's not over until it's over.'

The House and Senate are aligned on a handful of arts and cultural appropriations, but gaps remain for most of the Florida Cultural Alliance’s top priorities.

The chambers have resolved negotiations on Culture Builds Florida, a program “to develop unified awareness for Florida’s cultural community.” Lawmakers have slotted $3.5 million in funding.

The chambers are also both recommending $7.4 million in state funding for cultural facilities. However, the latest round of budget offers show the line item is still being discussed in chamber negotiations, meaning funding could be reduced, eliminated, maintained or possibly even increased in future rounds.

As it stands, the budget would cover most, but not all, projects on the Department of State’s Cultural Facilities Ranked Application List for Fiscal Year 2023-24. The price tag for the full list is $11.8 million, which the House pitched in its draft budget earlier this year.

The Cultural Endowment Grant Program is also still on the table, but it hasn’t gotten any love thus far. The program provides $240,000 in State Matching Share funds to qualifying organizations, with the priority determined by the compliance date.

DOS’ legislative budget request sought $4.6 million, which would cover 19 projects, but neither chamber has allotted any cash for the program.

The biggest gap lies in the Cultural and Museum Grants Program. The House fully funds it with $54.5 million, but the Senate came in with a $23.5 million offer in the first round. As negotiations continue, the Florida Cultural Alliance urged its membership to “take a deep breath” and redouble their advocacy efforts.

“Pick up the phone and call Conference Committee Representatives first — emails are for follow up at this point. Thank them for fully funding Culture Builds Florida. Ask them to protect their recommendations for Cultural and Museum Grants. Ask them to consider raising their recommendation for Cultural Facilities Grants,” reads an email from alliance head Jennifer Jones.

“Chin up. Everyone is doing great and it’s not over until it’s over.”

Budget conference subcommittees will meet throughout the week to resolve differences in each area. When remaining issues reach an impasse, they will be “bumped” to the full budget conference committee.

Lawmakers must reach an agreement on a final spending plan by May 2 to meet the 72-hour “cooling off” period required by the state constitution before they can vote on the budget to avoid pushing the Regular Session past its scheduled May 5 end date.

Drew Wilson

Drew Wilson covers legislative campaigns and fundraising for Florida Politics. He is a former editor at The Independent Florida Alligator and business correspondent at The Hollywood Reporter. Wilson, a University of Florida alumnus, covered the state economy and Legislature for LobbyTools and The Florida Current prior to joining Florida Politics.


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