The Knesset Finance Committee has announced that it hopes to reach an agreement with the Treasury in three weeks on financing the proposed Culture Law before it comes up for its first reading. Knesset Finance Committee Chairman MK Stas Meseznikov (Israel Beitenu) says that "the Treasury had better realize that we intend to increase the cultural budget and in the end, we'll do it." Passing its preliminary reading in March by an easy majority, the bill, tabled by MK Michael Melchior, provides for a gradual increase in cultural funding over the next eight years from the current NIS 445 million to NIS 1.8 billion, or an irreducible-by-law 0.5% (half of one percent) of the state budget. The bill's dire necessity was demonstrated last December when the government sought to cut a further NIS 53 million from the already truncated NIS 415 m. The entire cultural community banded together as the Cultural Forum and organized a well publicized, very vocal protest. The government backed down, and the cuts were rescinded. Whether or not agreement is reached with the Treasury, the Finance Committee intends to pass it for a first reading.