State may go after money given to Minnesota, St. Paul orchestras


Despite receiving funding from the state’s taxpayers, neither the Minnesota Orchestra nor the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra has played a concert since last fall. Anyone upset by that fact may be cheered by language included in HF1183, which was heard by the House Legacy Committee Wednesday.

It would require the commissioner of management and budget to recapture funds already given to the orchestras if the labor disputes each is involved in have not been resolved, and performances have not begun, within 30 days of the bill being enacted.

Furthermore, there is language in another portion of the bill that prohibits further funding of the orchestras until there has been an end to contract negotiations with the musicians and performances have resumed.

Those are just two provisions of HF1183, which was amended Wednesday to add the appropriations from the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund for the 2014-2015 biennium, and is currently being assembled into what will become the final version of the omnibus legacy bill.

Although further public testimony will be taken and amendments likely made, HF1183 currently appropriates $113.9 million from the fund — $56.84 million in the first year and $57.07 million in the second.

The Minnesota State Arts Board would receive the largest share of that money ($47.4 million for the biennium), while appropriations to other organizations and agencies for the biennium include:

  • Minnesota Historical Society: $26.4 million;
  • Department of Administration: $18.35 million;
  • Department of Education: $6 million;
  • Minnesota Humanities Center: $5 million;
  • Minnesota Zoo: $3.5 million;
  • Department of Agriculture: $2.8 million;
  • Indian Affairs Council: $2.3 million; and
  • Perpich Center for Arts Education: 2.05 million.

Although there wasn’t a great deal of discussion on many of the specifics of the bill during Wednesday’s meeting, one point that did provoke conversation was a requirement several of the grants had attached to them that recipients must also provide a 25 percent non-state cash match in order to be eligible.

Rep. Phyllis Kahn (DFL-Mpls), who chairs the committee, told members she had heard from a number of people opposed to the match, and said she would likely remove it from most parts of the final bill. Kahn said members would have a couple of days to look over HF1183 and offer amendments before those are voted on April 5.

The House Legacy Committee will have a busy week. It is scheduled to meet each day, excluding the weekend, until April 10. On that day, the committee is scheduled to combine the other portions of the omnibus legacy bill — HF641 (the appropriations from the Clean Water Fund and Parks and Trails Fund) and HF207 (appropriations from the Outdoor Heritage Fund) — into a final version, then vote on it.

Much of the language used to write the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund appropriations in HF1183 came from documents submitted by the organizations requesting funding rather than House files. Those documents can be found here.