On Wednesday, March 18, Florida library advocates from all corners of the state converged on the Capitol in Tallahassee for Florida Library Day to inform legislators about the value libraries provide Floridians and make the case for state funding. Attendance was up significantly over recent years with an estimated 120 attending, including a strong contingent from the TBLC region. Library Day is sponsored by the Florida Library Association and this year’s event is the 46th.
In the session’s third week appropriations subcommittees were completing their funding recommendations for the full committees that will prepare bills for the 2 houses’ consideration. Hopefully the conference process with begin on schedule around April 20th so they can complete the budget and adjourn the regular 60 day session as scheduled on May 1.
Every legislative session has it’s own story line and drama and this year’s are about whether Florida will receive federal Low Income Pool funding to help large hospitals with the cost of serving the medically indigent and how to implement Amendment 1 passed by voters last November to for water and land conservation, management, and restoration. And as we have already seen there will be plenty of silliness to keep comics and commentators well supplied.
Reasonable people would expect this story to be balanced and about how advocates work for state funding for all types of libraries – college and university, k-12 school library media specialists and public libraries. Indeed the Florida Library Association has a Legislative Platform supporting all types of libraries but almost all college and university library funding is institution based and doesn’t show up as lines in the state budget and the advocacy is done by institution administrators. There is a budget line for the school library resources and the Florida Association for Media in Education actively advocate for that funding. That means that most of the advocacy that’s done is for public library funding.
Here is how things look as the House and Senate TED Committees made their recommendations:
– State Aid to Public Libraries – This year libraries are receiving $27.4 million but at this juncture both the Senate and House TED Committees recommended $22.3 million (on in budget speak the “recurring base.”) The Chairs of both Committees, Senate TED Chair Jack Latvala (Pinellas) and House Chair Clay Ingram (Escambia) are committed to getting the funding up when the LIP issues are resolved later in the process. It’s never good to have committees recommend less that is needed but in these circumstances we are optimistic that the funding will be provided. It is important to note that the funding was higher than the $27.4 million from 1997 through 2008 and was as high as $33.4 million in 2001.
– Public Library Construction – Both House and Senate committees recommended $2 million to fund all 4 of the projects on the State Library’s project list.
– Library Cooperative Grants – The five MLC’s rely on these grants and they were funded for the current year at $2 million, the amount required to fund each of the 5 organizations at the full $400,000 authorized by statute. The Senate Committee is recommending $2 million and the House Committee is $1.7 million but the House Chair is already looking for ways to ensure full funding as the process continues.
Again, many thanks to the many advocates from our region who made the Tallahassee trip – including TBLC Board President and incoming Florida Library Association President Gene Coppola!
Charlie Parker –
813.622.8252 x 222