More Good News for Library Budgets
Good news, our library budget increases have made it through conference committee intact. It took considerable effort to keep our increases as the budget made its way first through budget committees and then conference committee. As you know, Governor Snyder recommended a $1 million increase in State Aid to Libraries for fiscal year 2015/16 for a total of $9.9 million along with an additional $600,000 for Renaissance Zone Reimbursements and $2.2 million for MPSERS (retirement funding for participating libraries). Much of that is due to the work of Sen. Jim Stamas (R-Midland) who has advocated tirelessly on behalf of libraries. It is also due to the fact that MLA, GCSI and members have been educating legislators about libraries, their value to their communities and the thousands and thousands of pre-k children learning to love reading and learning at their local library. MLA members Asante Cain, Ray Arnett and Lance Werner testified very effectively in House and Senate committees on the importance of libraries to Michigan residents and the future of Michigan’s economy.
Seven years ago libraries were not on the minds of Michigan legislators. We are now front and center. It has taken great efforts on the part of librarians, MLA and our lobbyist GCSI. We cannot underestimate the work that goes into regularly achieving increases in the budget, getting a heads up on potential dangers and better yet directly impacting legislation that could be detrimental to libraries. Members should feel good about the progress we have made. Knowing that our legislators and their staffs have MLA and libraries on their radar means we often get a call or email from a potential bill sponsor when legislation is likely to impact our libraries. We managed to stop changes to penal fines, millage opportunities and assaults on professional librarianship. We secured the existence of district libraries during consolidations along with the ability to continue including school districts. Legislators, when contacted by constituents with library concerns, will reach out to MLA for input and guidance. This kind of impact is achieved with consistent and unwavering education, outreach and lobbying over the course of many years. Thank you to all our grassroots activists. Your voice makes a difference.
However, the fight for funding is not over. We can expect to see more efforts to corral our penal fines for road repair. Additionally, we are working to mitigate the impact of TIFAs on our dedicated library millages. Watch for more information on this initiative soon.
MLA’s new advocacy resource Engage is now available. We will keep you aware as we populate the pages with legislative news and information, talking points and issue briefs. Advocacy is important to all libraries and MLA is working hard as your voice in Lansing.