Updated NASAA Member Directory

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

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NationalAssembly of State Arts Agencies

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Legislative Update

Appropriations Measure Increases Arts Ed Fund; Nonprofits Seek Employer Health Insurance Incentives

NASAA Legislative Counsel Thomas L. Birch

Congress Passes Catchall Appropriations Bill, Arts Ed Fund Increased

Congress approved an additional $2 million in fiscal year 2010 for arts education grants through the U.S. Department of Education's Arts in Education program, as part of an omnibus spending bill passed in mid-December with $40 million for arts education.

The arts education grants funding is allocated among several activities: $14.616 million for model arts programs—the competitive grants for which state arts agencies have been successful applicants; $9 million for model professional development programs for music, drama, dance, and visual arts educators; $486,000 for evaluation activities; $9.06 million for VSA arts; and $6.838 million for the Kennedy Center education programs.

In October, Congress approved funding for the National Endowment for the Arts in separate legislation with an increase in support to $167.5 million for 2010.

The omnibus spending measure also includes funding for three new programs of assistance proposed by the Obama administration for support through the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS). A new Social Innovation Fund received $50 million; the Volunteer Generation Fund is set at $4 million; and $1 million is allocated for a nonprofit capacity building program. The Senate's version of the bill had provided money for all three programs; the House had supported only the Social Innovation Fund. Program guidelines are being developed by CNCS to implement the new programs of grants to nonprofit groups.

Nonprofit Organizations Seek Health Insurance Incentives for Employers

As part of health care reform legislation, Congress is considering incentives to help small business employers provide health insurance for their employees. NASAA and other arts advocacy organizations are joined with colleagues in the nonprofit community to ensure that the final health care measure offers relief to small charities that provide health insurance to their employees by providing incentives to nonprofit employers that are equivalent to those provided to for-profit employers.

The health care legislation in the Senate would provide a tax credit to businesses and 501(c) nonprofit organizations with fewer than 25 employees and average wages below $40,000 to provide insurance for their employees. Nonprofits could apply the credit to taxes they withhold from payroll. Employees still would receive full credit for taxes withheld from their pay.

The House-passed bill provides a small business tax credit that does not apply to tax-exempt organizations.

Keep abreast of current congressional news and federal legislative updates, and be sure to take advantage of NASAA's arts advocacy tools and services.