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Legislative Update - State budget status

Posted By Christi Buker, Thursday, April 13, 2017

The PA House of Representatives version of the state budget was put forward as HB218.  It was approved in the House one day after it was introduced.  Bill info is here.   It is now in the PA Senate for consideration.  

As noted in the last Legislative Update to you – this budget leaves the Public Library Subsidy and the Services to the Visually Impaired & Disabled at the same budget amount as last year.  However, it includes a significant cut of $461,000 to the Library Access line item, and a cut of $142,000 to the Office of Commonwealth Libraries. 

The Library Access line includes funding for three vital services –

1.       POWER Library network of electronic resources – including cost-effective statewide subscriptions to research services that range from school-age appropriate materials, newspapers, magazines, genealogy, academic materials, and health materials.

2.       Statewide catalog (formerly Access PA database program) - with the largest online catalog of its kind in North America.  It includes the library holdings of more than 2500 public, school, academic, and special libraries. 

3.       Interlibrary Delivery Service (IDS) which makes interlibrary loan possible. 

The Office of Commonwealth Libraries budget line item provides invaluable direct and indirect support to libraries in staff, training, and materials.  

The PA Senate will be in session again beginning Monday, April 17.  While the Senate traditionally does not move as quickly as the House, our timely outreach on the budget is important. 

Talking points to share with PA Senators:

1.       We don’t need to “thank” them for level funding.  Over time, level funding has meant cuts because expenses have not remained level.

We are at the same funding level as 2010, and had a 32% cut in 2006.  Inflation since 2010 is almost 10%.

2.       Do not take anything away from libraries!  We rely on all four budget line items for quality and accessible library services to our citizens.

3.       If the Senate is considering options to show a positive mark – investing in libraries is an easy decision and impacts all ages!  Consider:

a.       Libraries directly connect with citizens – including hours beyond the regular business day.

b.       Libraries provide access to high-priority occupation resources including workforce development online curricula, STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) programming and kits for school-age learning.

c.       Early education to a wide majority of birth through pre-k ages and their caregivers, not just targeted populations.

d.       Many PA residents do not have in-home internet or computers.  Libraries are reliable and safe access points for everyone.

e.       Highly credentialed librarians help patrons find the right answers – not a million hits on Google, and teach the difference between fake news and credible sources.  

We know that libraries are also facing the threat of cuts in federal funding with the proposed 100% elimination of the Institute of Museum and Library Services.  There will be more information on the federal challenges in the next week, and we will share how we will work together to tackle those.

Great stories are being shared during this National Library Week – look on our Facebook pages for details.  Be sure to share those local success stories with your PA Senator. 

Please stay with us – and we will work together for strong state support for libraries!

Christi Buker
Executive Director
Pennsylvania Library Association

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