This year’s budget proposal from Governor Gary R. Herbert, unveiled Dec. 13, includes all of the requests submitted by the Department of Heritage & Arts. That includes a strong increase in Arts Sustainability Grants and money for three core positions.
The additional $500,000 in grants money for the Division of Arts & Museums will be used to strengthen the support given to nearly 250 organizations throughout the state. The oversight by Arts & Museums for their grants, both in the application and accountability, ensures that the state money is used in the most effective fashion.
Some of the new funding will be used for mentored grants to smaller museums, which will help improve their collections management and professional standards. There will also be grants targeted at communities that are developing their economy and quality of life through cultural programs.
Another focus for this year’s requests is addressing structural imbalances within multiple divisions. These have forced divisions to forego needed positions or pay for them on a year-to-year basis. Through this year’s budget proposal, positions in the Division of Indian Affairs, Division of State History, and Arts & Museums are recommended for ongoing funding.
Another point of interest for the department is $10 million in funding for Operation Rio Grande, which has greatly improved employee safety in the area around the Rio Grande Depot. While none of that money comes into the department’s budget, it obviously has a positive, even profound, impact on many of our daily lives.
As for the larger budget picture, the governor is emphasizing education, air quality, tourism, and infrastructure. More than 70 percent of the new money will go to K-12 or higher education. For those interested in diving deeper, you can read the summary from the Governor’s Office or even the full budget document (PDF). You can also visit any of the major local news sites for their stories.
The governor’s budget proposal generally serves as a starting point for legislators. A final budget needs to be approved by the Legislature during the annual general session, which begins this year on January 22.