Committee approves bill to use Unclaimed Property Fund money for Oklahoma City's American Indian Cultural Center and Museum

The state Senate Appropriations Committee approved a bill to use $40 million of Oklahoma’s Unclaimed Property Fund to help complete Oklahoma City’s American Indian Cultural Center and Museum.
by Randy Ellis Modified: February 19, 2014 at 6:55 pm •  Published: February 20, 2014
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A bill to use $40 million from the state’s Unclaimed Property Fund to help complete Oklahoma City’s American Indian Cultural Center and Museum easily cleared its first legislative hurdle Wednesday.

Senate Bill 1651 sailed through the state Senate Appropriations Committee by a vote of 21-3 Wednesday and is expected to be voted on by the full Senate next week.

The bill would use $40 million from the Unclaimed Property Fund to match $40 million in private donations. The combined funds would be used to complete construction on the $170 million museum, which currently stands unfinished despite $91 million already having been spent on the project.

While many state senators remain miffed at what they consider to be wasteful management of past project funds, several praised the new funding plan to complete the museum for not relying on a bond issue.

“I appreciate the idea that they’re not borrowing money to do this,” said state Sen. Dan Newberry, R-Tulsa.

“We’re sent here to solve problems and this has obviously been a serious problem through the years,” said state Sen. David Holt, R-Bethany. “I applaud Sen. (Greg) Treat who maybe held out for the best solution possible, and I think this is it. I think it’s time we try to move forward and I urge passage of this bill.”

by Randy Ellis
Capitol Bureau Reporter
For the past 30 years, staff writer Randy Ellis has exposed public corruption and government mismanagement in news articles. Ellis has investigated problems in Oklahoma's higher education institutions and wrote stories that ultimately led to two...
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