Taxpayer art might be budget casualty

A tranquil fountain of dolphins greets visitors at the Florida State Capitol.

In the courtyard a different statue reminds them of the sacrifices made by law enforcement. "We want them to see that this is the reality of what law enforcement, correctional officers go through every day," said Police Benevolent Spokesman Matt Puckett.

The Florida Police Benevolent Association donated the 'Officer Down' statue in 2009, the same year a bill calling on the state to stop buying art failed in Tallahassee.

Over the past 30 years the state has spent 11.5 million dollars on art. That's about 360-thousand a year. Florida Division of Cultural Affairs Spokesman Chris Cate says the pictures, paintings, and sculptures enhance the Florida experience. "Public places are a great venue to promote Florida's artists, Florida's talent, Florida's environment."

State law allows an art budget of up to 100-thousand dollars per new building.

Florida's First District Court of Appeal went way over its art budget, so Florida's CFO stopped payment to the artist. Now more than 350 framed photographs sit wrapped in paper while the artist sues the state for the money she was promised.

With the state and local governments cutting programs and laying off workers to fill massive budget deficits, some people are asking if now is the time to spend tax dollars on art.

"I don't care about no pictures hanging up, I'm trying to get to my destination, get to work, take care of my family," said Anthony Jackson, who thinks the art should be sold.

At least one Florida County is taking action. Broward County may soon require a vote for every six figure art purchase.

A bill introduced to require the state to only buy art from Florida artists failed this session.

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