The future of the American Indian Cultural Center and Museum rests for now with a Senate bill that’s scheduled to be voted on today by the House Appropriations and Budget Committee. Members of the committee need to approve SB 1651, and then House Speaker Jeff Hickman needs to send it to the floor for a vote.
The bill would take $40 million from the state treasurer’s Unclaimed Property Fund and put it toward the AICCM, which sits unfinished along the Oklahoma River east of downtown Oklahoma City. That $40 million will be matched by private donations.
If the bill doesn’t pass out of committee, the issue is probably dead for this session and perhaps forever. The donors have been waiting more than two years for their gifts to be matched by the state. They are likely to pull out if nothing happens this session.
The state has already spent $67.4 million on the AICCM through the years. Many lawmakers are concerned about spending even more, particularly in a tight budget year. That’s why using money from the Unclaimed Property Fund makes so much sense – it’s a one-time allocation of surplus funds.
The AICCM needs to be completed. It will dovetail with ongoing and future enhancements to the Oklahoma River, and will provide the state – not just Oklahoma City – with a first-class tourist and education destination that celebrates Oklahoma’s rich American Indian history and culture.