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.”