Hobbs leads effort to keep public art money in Washington
JOURNAL STAFFThe Legislature has voted to keep precious tax dollars intended for public art in the state.
Sen. Steve Hobbs, D-Lake Stevens, attached an amendment to the 2009-11 capital budget requiring the Washington State Arts Commission to restrict the purchase of art to artists living in Washington state.
“This is an issue I feel very strongly about,” Hobbs said. “Almost half of our public art dollars go to people who don’t live in Washington. My amendment makes sure those precious tax dollars are spent here at home.”
Hobbs introduced Senate Bill 5693 at the beginning of the 2009 legislative session to spare state agencies from being required to purchase art for public buildings during the next two years because of the budget shortfall.
By law, agencies must set aside one-half of one percent of state agency capital funds for the purchase of art. That requirement would have been optional during the biennium, freeing up as much as $5 million.
The legislation was given a public hearing but died in the Senate Ways and Means Committee.
“In this tough economy where hundreds of thousands of our citizens are out of work, we shouldn’t be handing over our public art dollars to people who don’t live here,” he said. “We should be making those investments in artists who call Washington home and support our tax base.”