The unveiling Wednesday of former Gov. M. Jodi Rell's official portrait in the state library is a reminder that a regular protocol needs to be established for paying for this legacy going forward.
Two years ago, we were among those wondering why the Malloy administration and the legislature were dragging their feet in getting Mrs. Rell's portrait underway.
There was no money in the budget to pay for a portrait, said the Office of Policy and Management. The Office of Legislative Management and the Department of Administrative Services — the two agencies most likely to handle the job — said they bore no responsibility.
Find the money for Mrs. Rell's portrait, we and others advised. After all, it would be unfair and just plain wrong not to hang the portrait of the popular Republican chief executive — only the second female governor out of 87 in this state's history — in the library's Memorial Hall. It would look like a partisan hatchet job by the Democrats who took over after Mrs. Rell left office.
This past week, those in charge finally did the right thing. Mrs. Rell, her family and Gov. Dannel P. Malloy attended the unveiling of her portrait by Laura Stern Boeck of Woodbury.
Nearly two decades ago, legislators balked at paying for an oil portrait of former Gov. Lowell P. Weicker Jr. Lawmakers wanted to go with a more economical photograph of the independent governor. Some $35,000 for an oil painting was found in the state budget, however.
What about the portraits of governors to come?
Taxpayers will shell out $36,639 for Ms. Boeck's oil painting of Mrs. Rell. Such mementos aren't getting cheaper. Can the money be raised privately, as in such states as Indiana, Maryland, Michigan and Wisconsin? (Leftover funds could go to the State Library for the preservation of the collection, as in Indiana.)
This is an important legacy, but shouldn't necessarily be a state budget item. Or an oil painting.
This editorial was updated Monday to add historic information about former Gov. Lowell P. Weicker Jr.'s portrait.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun