Massachusetts Department of Housing & Community Development is now reviewing a new set of applications for IDA program support in fiscal year 2009, which begins July 1. It’s nice that they’re collecting the applications now even though the FY09 state budget hasn’t yet been confirmed.
My recently launched Assets for Artists project is again part of the state-wide application from the Midas collaborative, so we have a reasonably strong chance of landing support for another 14 low-income artists in Berkshire County to open IDAs in the fall or winter in addition to the 9 artists who will be chosen for IDAs this spring (that first-round selection process is still underway, news on that soon).
By the way, I’m happy to report that the amended budget proposal recently approved in the Massachusetts House of Representatives included a line item of $700,000 for IDAs in FY09 — an increase of $100,000 over last year; not bad to possibly get an increase during such a lean budget season. Soon the Senate has to weigh in (and then the Governor has his chance to veto items), so we don’t yet know if that increase will stand, but it looks promising.
I reached out to our legislative delegation in Berkshire County to let them know that low-income artists in Berkshire County would likely benefit from the IDA line item. I thought that would make it something they’d be even more keen to support, as they have all shown a great understanding for how important our creative economy is to Berkshire County. I still don’t know exactly how the House decides which amendments to include in their final amended budget bill. With over a thousand proposed amendments, they can’t vote on each one individually, can they? Maybe some small group of power brokers decides which amendments to include before putting the amended bill to a vote by the full chamber. Or not. That’s something I’d like to learn. Does each individual legislator actually get to vote up or down on each proposed budget amendment, or is the real process a bit more efficient (less transparent) than that? If any Massachusetts advocacy wonks read this, please weigh in.