Gov. Charlie Baker Vetoes Public Art Bill
State House News Service reports that despite agreeing with its “admirable” goals, Gov. Charlie Baker has vetoed legislation that would create the Massachusetts Percent for Art program, which intended to use capital funding to create and preserve public art in Boston and surrounding areas.
Funding from the program, which was approved by the House and Senate as part of the fiscal 2016 budget, would have come from construction and substantial renovation projects related to state-owned buildings and properties. The program would’ve taken a minimum of five percent—not to exceed $250,000—from the budget of each project whose capital cost exceeded $4 million.
In addition to Boston, the program would have benefited cities that were designated by the state as “gateway” municipalities—areas with a population greater than 35,000 and less than 25,000, where the median household income and rate of education attainment of a bachelor’s degree or higher are both below the commonwealth’s average.
In July, Gov. Baker had proposed an amendment to the legislation that would have capped the contribution from each project at $100,000 and capped total funding for the program at $1 million per any fiscal year. He had also suggested that the program could benefit areas beyond Boston and “gateway” municipalities.
Most of the governor’s suggestions were not adopted, and the bill was again brought before him in late October. Gov. Baker vetoed the bill shortly after, stating that “the costs and structure are unreasonable in light of the many legitimate demands and constraints on the Commonwealth’s capital investment plan.”
Gov. Baker’s administration estimated that without an annual cap, the program would have increased capital spending by more than $7 million over the next fiscal year.