Legislature(1995 - 1996)
02/09/1995 08:05 AM STA
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
HSTA - 02/09/95 HB 106 - REPEAL OF ART IN PUBLIC PLACES REQUIREMENT Number 519 CHAIR JAMES called for Representative Al Vezey to testify and provide an explanation of the intent of his bill. REPRESENTATIVE AL VEZEY, Sponsor of HB 106, stated that HB 106 is a bill intended to repeal one of the statutes that set into operation a formula funding program. He said the purpose of the bill is to repeal a formula program and to place back into the realm of the legislature, the accountability and responsibility of the appropriation of state funds. He did not intend to comment on the merits of where the funding for this program goes. He said the statute being repealed by this bill is probably one of in excess of 100 statutes where the legislature has abrogated its constitutional authority and responsibility to appropriate funds. He thought it was very appropriate that legislators start to take steps to bring back some of this authority and responsibility back to the legislature and away from the Administration. He said it gets to an issue of accountability. He said when it is in a formula program, there is no one that the public can hold accountable if they do not like the way that money is being spent. He said this was just one of many areas in the statutes where he felt the legislature needed to resume its constitutional responsibility and accountability for appropriating funds. REPRESENTATIVE ROBINSON stated she thought it was good public policy to include art in the constructing costs, which she felt really made a building pleasant to be in for long periods of time. She said she was curious as to why he felt this was not good public policy. REPRESENTATIVE VEZEY said he thought he had answered this in his opening statement, but pointed out that the state spends a lot more than 1 percent of our public works for aesthetics. He said you could build a box for under $100 a square foot and our public buildings cost $200 a square foot. He said some of this was requirements of law, but much of this funding was architectural improvements which add to the aesthetics and quality of the building. He said the legislature has this responsibility and should be accountable for how we spend this money. With a formula program, there is no accountability or responsibility. He said the public has no recourse. REPRESENTATIVE ROBINSON stated she did not see how the architect had anything to do with the 1 percent. She said the 1 percent was intended for decorating the building after it was already built. She wondered what he meant by the role of the architect in this. REPRESENTATIVE VEZEY responded that her question addressed the area of aesthetics and public appreciation of the building, and he had commented that most of the aesthetics and public appreciation factor was incorporated into the architecture of the building. Number 600 CHAIR JAMES commented she saw this bill as taking the approach that currently when there is a capital project appropriation, it is 1 percent larger to factor in the formula program for art. If this bill passed, then the legislature would have the choice of saying this is how much they want to spend on this building and this is how much they want to spend on art. She said that currently with the formula funding program, there is no relationship between the 1 percent for art and the value of the building. With the choice, the legislature may choose to spend more or less for art in a particular building. She said she thought the thrust of this bill was to put the choice back to the legislature to decide exactly what they want to do. REPRESENTATIVE ROBINSON said she didn't think this would change things. She said she knew from personal experience that people building a new structure did not divide out the 1 percent that they would spend on art. She said they would come in and request funding, and out of that amount take 1 percent for art. She said she did not see this was going to save any money for the budget. She said if a contractor didn't have that requirement for art, they would come back to the legislature to get additional funding. CHAIR JAMES stated her personal response was that she would much rather have that 1 percent go into a maintenance account for the maintenance of things which are not currently being addressed. REPRESENTATIVE IVAN mentioned that he could appreciate the intent of this bill and felt this 1 percent could accumulate to a sizeable amount over the course of many construction projects. He said this could, five years down the line, affect issues of economic development and things such as water and sewer projects, which might not have the necessary amount of funding available. He said if there was a need for art in a particular instance, he was sure that someone would raise the issue with the legislature or the Administration. REPRESENTATIVE GREEN stated art was something that was truly in the eye of the beholder, and when he looked at some of the art in our public buildings, it was hard for him to justify some the curly Q's and squiggles that are called art. He said he agreed that art should be something that should be optional to the builder and not mandatory. He felt the sponsor was right, that by allowing this formula program, the legislature was abrogating its responsibility to oversee the budget. He stated he agreed that this should certainly be made voluntary and not mandatory. Number 644 REPRESENTATIVE OGAN stated he agreed with Representative Vezey's analysis that the aesthetics of a building could be designed in with the architectural details. He said he would support moving this bill out of committee. CHAIR JAMES called Tim Wilson to come up and testify on HB 106. Number 651 TIM WILSON, Executive Director, Alaska State Council on the Arts, said the council was an autonomous council and commission budget unit under the Department of Education. He referred to a letter from the council enclosed in the committee packets. He wanted to point out that the vast majority of these projects were in schools. Thus, he claimed the primary constituency that would be affected by this would be children. He said in rural areas, schools are very much public facilities used not only for the education of children. He stated the council considers this program as kind of a fiscally conservative program. He said the program operated on eligible costs, and not every building was eligible and not every cost was eligible. He stated it was only above the ground construction cost of that building. He said it was not 1 percent of the entire capital budget. He argued that the formula funding program just obliges the contractor to set aside 1 percent of their capital project for purposes of art and decor. He argued that the legislature did have oversight in that they appropriated the capital budgets. He said it did not cost more because they just cut a little on something like the carpets or floors to pay for the art and aesthetic enrichment of the building. He thought this was reflected in the attached fiscal notes. He said he would agree that art is in the eye of the beholder. He said the Arts Council does not administer this program, but are its advocates. He thought this program allowed for each community to decide what type of art it wanted in its buildings. He said art is a legacy that reflects the values of society and he thought that to take it away was a serious loss. He attributed the increase of crime and the decay of society to a loss of our culture's values and he thought that art could reinforce and educate us of our values. He said that as individuals enter the Capitol, they are reminded of the history of our state, as a result of the art displayed. He claimed that to repeal this program would not save any money, but we would lose a statement of our history and our spirit. TAPE 95-13, SIDE A Number 015 CHAIR JAMES reiterated that she supported art in public places. She thought though, that she did not agree that this program did not cost us any money. Even if you take it out of something else such as the carpet, it still costs money. She stated she was distressed that we had about $500 million on the request list for schools in this state. She said many of these schools were in dire need of repairs for life-saving health safety issues. She asked if it wouldn't be better for the legislature to make a decision on how much they wanted to spend on art in these schools, as opposed to a mandatory 1 percent, so that maybe they could come up with some of the funding necessary to resolve some of these safety issues. MR. WILSON said he did not mean to imply that this program did not cost money. Certainly it does. He stated what he meant was that it did not get added on top of the capital budget. He thought it did not add to the cost of the building. He emphasized with the legislature having to prioritize budget decisions, but he thought this was a very small percentage of the budget pie. REPRESENTATIVE PORTER thought perhaps there was a better process of budgeting and decision making in Southeast Alaska than Anchorage, but he had to comment that he thought art in the Federal Building was really bad. He said he could not see how $100,000 neon tubes on a wall were a wise use of public funds, and although this was not a state expenditure, it was similar to the type of program they were proposing to repeal. MR. WILSON said communities selected the type of art that was appropriate for them. Number 053 REPRESENTATIVE PORTER argued that these types of decisions could still be made if they repealed this statute, but the question was, who was to be held accountable - some art people or those charged with the entire project and expenditure. MR. WILSON explained that after a capital project appropriation is made, then the builder will begin planning either through the Department of Transportation and Public Facilities or the Department of Education. By regulation, they must form a committee, which includes the architect, the users of the building and other artists and members of the community. He said the artists sometimes visit the schools and work with teachers and students to try and get their input into the design of the art. He thought if they could visit different facilities around the state, they would be very proud of the art displayed. Number 108 REPRESENTATIVE GREEN stated he also disagreed that it did not cost money to implement the 1 percent for art program. He also added that this bill did not deny art in public buildings, it just said that we would not demand it. He also wanted to point out that we had art in public places before this program was in effect, and he felt this would continue. He said we did not have to dedicate or dictate that it be there. Number 126 REPRESENTATIVE IVAN wanted to state for the record that he was not in opposition to art in public places. Having said this, he thought there were better uses for this money as we plan for the future. CHAIR JAMES commented that some of her favorite art in the Capitol was the school art displayed on the walls, and this did not require the 1 percent funding formula to be placed there. She said the problem that she had with this program, was the arbitrary taking of 1 percent, without consultation of the legislature, and deciding this was the best way to spend our money. Number 153 REPRESENTATIVE OGAN said he wanted to send a message to the artistic community that maybe if they were a little more sensitive to the traditional values of the people, maybe they would have more support. He cited an example of some art that his children had seen in the Alaska State Museum, which displayed a full frontal view of a woman urinating in a cup. He questioned the artistic value of this and said this was why he thought we should give the local communities more options to decide the type of art they wanted in their buildings. Number 185 CHAIR JAMES read a testimonial letter from the Institute of Alaska Native Arts, a statewide organization formed in 1976 to provide services to Alaskan Native artists and the general public. They feared that without the current 1 percent for art program, the works of Alaskan artists would be limited to a few private collections. In today's declining budgets, the acquisition abilities of most museums were declining. They said the current percent for art program still costs less than one penny for every dollar spent on construction, as art in rural schools receives one- half of 1 percent contribution. The display of art in public buildings sends a message of creativity and opportunity. An empty building sends a very different message. They strongly urged the committee to not take any action on HB 106, and wherever possible, maintain the current level of support for art programs in the state. CHAIR JAMES commented that with this period of declining revenues, the legislature was going to be forced to take a closer look at many of these formula programs, and the question has to be asked what happened with art in public places before these programs were in place. She said that as Representative Green already pointed out, the art has always been there. She said that to say that if you take this program away, art will go away, she thought was a misnomer. She thought this legislature was trying to look at more responsible ways of spending state money and to allow the public more choice to see if they would rather spend the money a different way. Number 245 NATALIE ROTHAUS, Executive Director, Juneau Arts and Humanities Council, said the Juneau Arts and Humanities Council is concerned over HB 106. They said the purpose of the percent for arts program is to foster culture and the arts. She said that repeal of this program will negatively affect the two constituencies that it is designed to help - the public and the artists. They thought the biggest impact would be felt by Alaska's schools and children. The result of this program has been to enrich the environment of our buildings and to bring the works of our artists to public view. It has also given artists work, support, and a place to display their art. They thought it should be government's role to set the example of creating an environment that is culturally rich and aesthetically pleasing. They quoted an editorial which stated that government had as much of a responsibility to fund the arts, which nourish our souls, as they did commerce, which feeds our bodies. The Juneau Arts and Humanities Council feels that government has the responsibility to enhance the quality of life in Alaska, and urged the committee to vote against HB 106. Number 270 CHARLES ROHRBACHER, a local artist and iconographer, said he thought that it was important for the committee to hear from working artists on the impact of HB 106. He said he did not qualify for the 1 percent for art program, as the quality of his art was religious. He said that as a member of the community of artists, he urged the committee to consider the importance of their decision today. He thought it would send a message of what the state believed about the purpose and function of art to artists and to the general community. He also thought it sent a strong message about what we value and don't value. He said he did not consider this a subsidy, but rather a patronage. He stated that historically, different entities were the patrons of the arts, including the church, kings, and in our country, the state as a representation of the people. He said he would urge the committee to take this responsibility seriously. He said that historically, people have continuously found the resources to support art and he would urge the committee to do the same and to not eliminate the percent for art program. Number 329 CHAIR JAMES invited Representative Vezey to come and make a closing comment on his bill. REPRESENTATIVE VEZEY said that in his opening statement, he did not address the funding formula program intentionally. He said there had been a number of wrong statements about how the formula worked, but it was in the statutes and anyone could look it up for themselves. Thus, he would not take the time now to speak to these erroneous statements. He said the subject of the bill was not the elimination of the arts, but accountability of how the legislature appropriates funds. He thought that accountability and responsibility should come back to the legislature. CHAIR JAMES asked for a motion to move this bill out of committee. Number 339 REPRESENTATIVE OGAN moved that the committee pass out HB 106 and attached fiscal notes with individual recommendations. CHAIR JAMES asked if there were any objections. REPRESENTATIVE WILLIS stated he was going to vote against this bill, saying that we were a multi-cultural state. He said various cultures express their values and beliefs through art, and as has been pointed out, some of these displays are in our public facilities, and this should be continued. He thought the legislature should not do anything to jeopardize this and it was important that as a society, we continue this program. CHAIR JAMES reiterated that the motion was to pass this bill out of committee with attached fiscal notes and individual recommendations. She called for a roll call vote on the motion. REPRESENTATIVES James, Porter, Green, Ivan, and Ogan voted in favor of the motion. Representatives Robinson and Willis voted against. CHAIR JAMES announced that the bill had passed.