Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Public Arts Delay Bill Passes House

The House voted today to end for three years the state law that requires millions of tax dollars to go to “art” projects.

“It is difficult to justify spending millions on public ‘art’ at the same time schools are facing funding cuts and the Department of Corrections is furloughing workers,” said Rep. Leslie Osborn, R-Tuttle.

“Government needs to focus on its core functions, and this legislation will free up more money for those purposes.”

House Bill 1665, by Osborn, would eliminate the Arts in Public Places Act for the next three years. Under current law, anytime the state has a building project or renovation costing $250,000 or more, 1.5 percent of the cost must be dedicated to “public art.” The cost of that “art” can be as much as $500,000 per project.

Those expenditures are occurring even as the state faces a $500 million shortfall just one year after grappling with a $1.2 billion shortfall. The art law recently drew attention after the state paid a reported $450,000 to mount large rusted disc blades in front of the new Office of State Finance at 30th and Lincoln.

The bill passed the House on a bipartisan 69-20 vote.

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