This week – in an unexpected, but welcome development – Congress reached a bipartisan spending deal that funds the government through September 2020 and delivers two significant legislative wins for IATSE members. The package of two “minibus” appropriations bills were signed into law today.
A long-awaited victory for IATSE members, the budget agreement includes a full repeal of the 40% health benefits tax – known as the misnamed “Cadillac tax”. The looming tax on high-cost health plans would have shifted costs to working families via increased deductibles and co-pays. Employers across many industries were already hollowing out health care benefits to avoid paying the tax and in many union contract negotiations, those employers insisted on provisions placing costs incurred by the 40% tax squarely on workers.
For nearly a decade, IATSE and organized labor have been fighting to stop the tax from going into place. This victory for working families is the result of those efforts. Repeal of the 40% excise tax on high-cost health plans will protect IATSE members hard-won, quality health care benefits.
Additionally, the budget deal increases federal arts funding for the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), and Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) in Fiscal Year 2020. The NEA and NEH are funded at $162.25 million and CPB is funded at $485 million – increases of $7.25 million and $40 million, respectively, from 2019 funding levels.
As the union behind entertainment, we know that funding for the arts directly impacts work for our skilled craftspeople. This increased funding will enhance support of working families, promote our crafts, and ensure all Americans have access to the arts and entertainment.
The IATSE commends Congress for protecting the health benefits that working people rely on and for prioritizing funding for vital arts programs that support our craftspeople in the arts and entertainment.