I just received this forwarded e-mail from the good folks at Garden State Legacy. If you are from New Jersey, or are part of the New Jersey historical community, it is time to act.
Governor Christie has honored his promise to keep funding to the arts, history and tourism at a “flat” level for 2010-2011 (that is no less, no more, than last year). What follows is, I believe, an unintended consequence that will cause many historic sites to close forever and numerous projects to cease.
You see, along with the flat funding, the Governor has required that four (4) major history institutions that did not apply through the competitive grants process of the NJ Historical Commission, do so, starting now. Each of these agencies, in prior years, received a “line-item appropriation” in the State’s budget. That is, their funding was accounted for as a budget items unto themselves.
Under most circumstances, requiring that the 4 groups receive their monies from the Historical Commission would be fine – but these 4 major institutions collectively receive $2,770,000 in funding! This is MORE money than is given to the NJ Historical Commission (NJHC) for all of its direct grants, for all of its grants to the Counties which are then regranted on a local level, for all of its salaries and wages and operation expenses COMBINED! The Historical Commission is slated to receive $2,700,000. (By the way, these 4 worthy institutions are Battleship NJ, Historic Morven, Save Ellis Island and the Old Barracks Museum in Trenton.
Unless YOU TAKE ACTION, unless we can convince the Legislature to address this issue, you and I, the 60 + groups that receive direct NJHC funding, the dozens and dozens small groups funded through regranting of the Counties AND these 4 major institutions will – at best – take a cut of 50% on top of the 40% in cuts over the last two years. No group can survive this! The devastation that will result, to the core infrastructure of the history community, is unimaginable.
Can something be done to prevent these devasting losses? YES
First it is important for you to know that the source of monies provided to the NJHC (and the Arts Council, the Cultural Trust and Tourism) is derived from a designated source of revenue that is the Hotel Motel Tax, imposed specifically to underwrite history, arts and tourism since we are the economic engines that drive tourism. In their wisdom, the NJ Legislature sought a means to stabilize funding to history and the arts and REMOVE them from the annual budget battles. And, this year, despite the recent economic recession, the Hotel Motel Tax generated MORE REVENUE than is needed to fund history (the arts and tourism.)
With this in mind, I am asking that you contact the Chair of the committee newly formed by the Governor, called the Committee on Arts and Tourism. (Don’t be fooled by the name, it also oversees history and preservation.) I think this is a wonderful group of legislators who are truly interested in heritage tourism and the preservation of our State’s history. They are not adversaries but interested in what we have to say. They were unaware of what was going to happen, were these 4 groups placed into the NJHC pool of funding. They said this is the minutia of the budget that is important for them to know.
So, please, write, send a fax or make a phone call. A two paragraph letter will do. Ask – if Battelship NJ, Historic Morven, Save Ellis Island and Old Barracks are moved to New Jersey Historical Commission funding, please add the equivalent dollars to the budget of the Historical Commission to allow this to happen ($2,770,000 is the dollar amount for the 4 groups). And, so as not to impact any other State agency or take money from any other important cause – to take the needed money from the Hotel Motel Tax where the dollars are sufficient for this to happen. And by the way, the end result were the additional monies provided, will be a “flat budget” for the NJHC and the history community as a whole – we are not asking for an increasein funding!
Tell the Committee what will happen to your agency were you to be cut 50% over and above the 40% in cuts we suffered in the last two years. If you have attendance figures for your agency as a whole – let them know the numbers of persons who depend on you. The Chairman is
Honorable Matthew Milam, Chair Committee for Arts & Tourism
21 North Main St.
Cape May Court House, NJ 08210
PHONE NUMBERS: (609) 465-0700 (Cape May Court House)
FAX NUMBER: (609) 465-4578 (Cape May Court House)
Secretary to the Committee
Daria H. Deakins, Secretary, at (609)292-7676, fax (609)292-0561, or e-mail OLSAideATA@njleg.org.
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