My Testimony against HB-1285:
"An Act repealing the state art fund"

additional commentary by Rep. Timothy Horrigan; February 28, 2012

HB-1285 is a bill introduced by Rep. Dan McGuire, who is a first-term rep who has quickly risen to the upper reaches of the House Republican caucus's leadership. He is a smart guy who is a pretty good rep, and his meteoric rise is not just because he is the spouse of a respected veteran rep (Carol McGuire.) But, not of all of his bills are so wonderful: for example, this one would get rid of the state art fund. This allocates up to $75,000 of certain state building projects to the purchase of art (and to the curation of existing art.)  This bill is well on the way to being enacted: the House Executive Departments & Administration Committee's "Ought to Pass" report was approved 214-108 by the whole House on February 1, 2012, and the House Finance Committee is expected to endorse the bill when they vote on it on March 20, 2012.

This bill is part of a larger campaign against public art, including at least one bill which would eliminate the Department of Cultural Resources.

Here is my February 21, 2012 testimony:

Testimony against HB 1285
"An Act repealing the state art fund"

Rep. Timothy Horrigan (Strafford 7); February 21, 2012

I urge the House Finance Committee to kill HB 1285-FN, "an act repealing the state art fund." The amount of money saved by this bill would be miniscule: in Fiscal Years 2007 through 2011, the fund spent less than $250,000 total. Given the way budgets are arrived at, it is probable that the cost of the art fund is literally zero: the money which goes into the art fund would, in the absence of such a fund, simply end up being spent on something else. Instead of putting up to $75,000 per project into the art fund, state agencies would use that money on other decorative elements (e.g., furnishing, carpeting, etc.)

There are some who believe that government is a sordid business which should only be carried out in strictly functional surroundings with no artwork— but those people are shortsighted. Government, like any other institution, functions best in beautiful surroundings, and artwork is an integral part of a beautiful and functional building. Also, art is an asset which keeps its value forever when chosen wisely and curated appropriately: an artwork is fundamentally different from a paperclip or an automobile.

The art fund serves a larger purpose beyond merely buying the art: it also maintains, catalogs and repairs the art. No one would be responsible for these curatorial duties if HB 1285-FN is passed, since RSA 190A:11 is one of the paragraphs this bill would delete from the lawbooks. This currently reads:

  •     19-A:11 Repairs to Works of Art. – Except in the buildings or facilities covered under RSA 14:14-b [i.e., except for legislative facilities], no conservation, restoration, repair, or removal of any work of art purchased under the provisions of this subdivision shall be undertaken without the approval of the commissioner, who shall seek the advice of the New Hampshire state council on the arts on any such matter.

Another unintended consequence of the bill as written is that it would cripple the state library. The way I read it, the bill would delete all eight subparagraphs of RSA 21-K:8, whjch deals with the commissioner of cultural resources' rulemaking authority. Only subparagraph 21-K:8V deals with the state art fund.

Here is the bill, as introduced and passed by the Executive Departments & Administration committee:






AN ACT repealing the state art fund.

SPONSORS: Rep. D. McGuire, Merr 8

COMMITTEE: Executive Departments and Administration


This bill repeals the state art fund.

Explanation: Matter added to current law appears in bold italics.

Matter removed from current law appears [in brackets and struckthrough.]

Matter which is either (a) all new or (b) repealed and reenacted appears in regular type.




In the Year of Our Lord Two Thousand Twelve

AN ACT repealing the state art fund.

Be it Enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Court convened:

1 Council on the Arts; Reference to State Art Fund Removed. Amend RSA 19-A:5, VII to read as follows:

VII. To administer any federal funds received from the National Endowment of the Arts [and the art fund established under RSA 19-A:9].

2 Repeal. The following are repealed:

I. RSA 6:12, I(b)(103), relative to the state art fund.

II. The subdivision heading preceding RSA 19-A:8 and RSA 19-A:8 through RSA 19-A:12, relative to the state art fund.

III. RSA 21-K:8, relative to rulemaking on requirements for selecting art to be funded by the state art fund.

3 Effective Date. This act shall take effect 60 days after its passage.





AN ACT repealing the state art fund.


      The Department of Administrative Services states this bill would decrease state restricted revenues and expenditures by an indeterminable amount in FY 2012 and each fiscal year thereafter. There will be no impact on county and local revenues or expenditures.


    The Department of Administrative Services states the State Arts Fund purchases artwork for State facilities constructed with funds provided by the capital fund. The Department is unable to determine the potential reduction to the revenues and expenditures of the State Arts Fund as a result of this bill. However, for informational purposes, the Department states expenditures from the State Arts Fund for the past five fiscal years was as follows:

Fiscal Year

State Art Fund Expenditures











See Also:


The Forgotten Liars




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