In committee, lawmakers lift public art mandate
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Published: 21-Feb-2011

CapitolBeatOK Staff Report

Published: 21-Feb-2011

Legislation approved by a state House committee today (Monday, February 21) would temporarily end a state law that funnels millions of tax dollars to public art projects.

“Even if you like all of the so-called ‘art’ funded as a result of this law, it’s hard to justify these expenditures at the same time schools face funding cuts,” said state Rep. Leslie Osborn, R-Tuttle. “Government needs to focus on its core functions.”

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 can be as much as $500,000 per project, according to a legislative staff estimate.

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-looking disc blades in front of the new Office of State Finance at 30th and Lincoln.

H.B. 1665 passed out of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Natural Resources on Monday. It now proceeds to the main House Appropriations and Budget Committee.

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