April was packed with legislator meetings as we discussed library budgets and pending legislation. Those meeting will continue until July 1 when legislators break for the summer to do in-district work.
There is good news for libraries this fiscal year. With the Michigan Legislature returning from spring break on April 8, they again tackled the budget issue which they will try to wrap up by June. Although it is way too early to celebrate since we are only in the first stage of the budget process, it's important to realize how critical it is libraries are being acknowledged by lawmakers.
Review this list for committee members from your district.
Spring Break at the Capitol
It's spring break for legislators. They will be back in their districts and not in session for the next two weeks. That puts legislation on hold for the time being. This week GCSI lobbyists and I met with members of the Department of Education appropriations subcommittees responsible for the library budget and are scheduled for more meetings after the break. We will make certain they understand how important libraries are to their communities. While the Governor's budget recommended funding to remain stable from last year, the House subcommittee is pushing substantial cuts to the education budget. At this point libraries have taken a modest $40,000 hit from the $1.5 million Renaissance Zone funding source. This is good news and highlights that the library voice continues to be heard.
Library budgets remain unchanged
The Governor's 2013-14 and 2014-15 budget recommendation is out. Line items supporting State Aid to Libraries, the Michigan e-Library and Renaissance Zone Reimbursements all remain unchanged in FY 2013-14. Considering the fact that libraries saw around $6 million in new funding from the state in FY2012-13 this should be considered nothing less than a win for MLA.
MLA President Lance Werner and I last night joined hundreds of legislators, lobbyists and constituents in the Capitol for a pre-State of the State event. This year security procedures called for preregistration and an entrance pass. We had to weave our way through groups of peaceful protestors who waved signs and chanted on the Capitol steps and at each entrance.
President Werner and I attended as part of our ongoing mission to make certain the voice of our libraries is heard in the legislature. Our GCSI lobbyists, the MLA and member grassroots participation are all part of the equation. It takes all three to keep a seat at the table.