Senator Markley Seeks to Eliminate Public Art Mandate

February 15, 2017

Hartford—State Senator Joe Markley (R-Southington) today testified before the General Administration and Elections Committee (GAE) on behalf of his bill to remove a thirty-nine year old mandate which requires one percent of construction expense for public buildings to be devoted to art to decorate the building. Senator Markley’s bill, S.B. 373, would eliminate this mandate.

According to the non-partisan Office of Fiscal Analysis, the state has bonded over $5 million for art during the Malloy Administration.

“Let me repeat what I have said last week in regard to bonding for the Hartford Civic Center: What part of ‘we’re broke’ don’t people understand?” said Senator Markley. “The state simply cannot afford to spend a penny more than is absolutely necessary. With cuts to municipalities, hospitals and core social services squeezing our vulnerable citizens, it is irresponsible to spend taxpayer money on things we don’t need.

“One test might be to ask what our response to this program would be if it weren’t already in place,” said Senator Markley. “I believe a legislator who proposed such an expenditure in this fiscal crisis would be laughed out of the chamber. Why must we continue a program out of inertia that we would not initiate in our current circumstances?

“If we want to spend money on the arts, let’s put it into education,” Senator Markley said. “While we spend millions each year on public art that goes virtually unnoticed, state cuts to aid to municipalities force schools to eliminate music programs.

“How many people—besides the recipients of the grants—can honestly say that any of this public art was a life-enhancing experience for them? I’d much rather see us give our children an appreciation of art in the classroom than mandate the needless decoration of public buildings.”