OKLAHOMA CITY – After building half of an American Indian Cultural Center and Museum in Oklahoma City, a few lawmakers voted to complete the project without taking on millions of dollars of debt.
Senate Bill 1651 would provide $40 million out of the state’s Unclaimed Property Fund.
The $40 million would then be matched by private donations to complete the museum.
On Monday, the measure passed the House Appropriations and Budget Subcommittee on Natural Resources and Regulatory Services.
“This is a plan that will allow us to fulfill the promise we made to our citizens without taking on any more bond debt,” said Rep. Don Armes. “The project is already half complete, and it would be a shame to let it just sit empty and rust for the next 50 years. The private sector has stepped up with matching funds, so I am proud that my colleagues have done their part to get this plan farther down the road. We have a proud Native American culture and history in Oklahoma, and we owe it to our citizens to finish the job we set out to do.”
Rep. Mike Christian says the plan will also save the state money by eliminating the Native American Cultural and Educational Authority as a state agency and removing its cost from the state budget.
“No other state can claim the cultural heritage that we possess in Oklahoma,” said David Dank. “This museum will symbolize that heritage and become a defining landmark for our state. I believe this museum will be a one-of-a-kind attraction throughout the nation that will pay for itself many times over during the next 20 years. I’m very thankful that my colleagues have moved this bill forward.”
Senate Bill 1651 now heads to the full House Appropriations and Budget Committee for consideration.