The Board of Library Commissioners is asking for a $2 million increase over this year; the governor’s budget is giving it $175,000 instead.
“The ask is a 3 percent increase … we have operated on less than a 1 percent increase over the last eight years,” said Greg Pronevitz, executive director of the Massachusetts Library System. “A one percent increase for us means more cuts in services … We can’t afford to operate with a 1 percent increase.”
The $25.6 million budget proposed by Gov. Charlie Baker is about .006 of the state budget, down a few 10ths of a percent from this year. Library officials say continued level-funding will cut into critical supports for libraries across the state — and push those needs on to local budgets.
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In its FY2019 legislative agenda, the MBLC requested a significant increase in the MBLC’s administrative line, 7000-9101. This line received an increase of 1% or $10,773. Funding to support this line is 12% lower than 2001 and the MBLC has lost staff positions and struggles to carry out the agency’s statutory mandate to improve library services for all residents of the Commonwealth.
The Board also requested a significant increase in the Technology and Resource Sharing line, 7000-9506, which is 52% lower than it was in 2001. This line received an increase of .88% or $18,598. This funding supports the nine Automated Library Networks. Lack of funding to this account passes costs of library networking back to cities and towns and denies residents access to essential electronic research materials to support education and economic development.
The Board also requested 3% increases in all other budget lines. State Aid to Regional Libraries (the Massachusetts Library System and Library for the Commonwealth at Boston Public Library), 7000-9401, received a 1% increase. Per capita funding for Library for the Commonwealth was set at a minimum of 40.7 cents. State Aid to Public Libraries, 7000-9501 also received a 1% increase.
The Talking Book Libraries, 7000-9402 (Perkins) and 7000-9406 (Worcester) and the Massachusetts Center for the Book, 7000-9508 were level funded.
The House Committee on Ways and Means will now develop their own budget to be debated by House members in April. Following passage of the House version of the budget, the Senate will vote on their version in May. A conference committee will reconcile any differences between the two versions, and the FY2019 budget will be sent to the Governor to be put into place by July 1, 2018.
Direct to Detailed Budget Funding Chart (via MBLC)