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Efforts to fund Oklahoma City Indian museum and cultural center move to appropriations process

Plan now in play would fund long-stalled Oklahoma City Indian museum and cultural center over three years.
by Rick Green Modified: April 28, 2014 at 8:22 pm •  Published: April 28, 2014

Plans to finish funding the American Indian Cultural Center and Museum in Oklahoma City may be considered by the Legislature this session even though the House failed to hear a bill to draw $40 million from the state’s unclaimed property fund to complete the long-stalled project.

One of the bill’s authors, Rep. David Dank, R-Oklahoma City, said Monday lawmakers are discussing the possibility of paying for the project through an appropriations bill that would stagger funding over three years.

Under that approach, $15 million would be provided the first year, $15 million the second and $10 million the third. The money likely still would come from the unclaimed property fund.

“I’m hopeful that can happen,” Dank said. “We’ll keep working on it until we get it done.”

Private backers of the project have pledged to provide $40 million to finish the project if the state also puts up $40 million.

“We have those private people who have committed money for it,” Dank said. “Those commitments are just good through this session. We’ve got to get it done, otherwise the state will be looking at having to provide $80 million instead of $40 million.

“It could be a real boon to this state. It is history, culture and heritage. It will draw thousands of people here every year and will pay for itself.”

A bill to provide $40 million for the project in one lump sum passed the Senate and two House committees, but House Speaker Jeff Hickman did not allow it to come to a floor vote, saying he wanted it to have the support of 51 Republicans in the House before he did so.

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by Rick Green
Capitol Bureau Chief
Rick Green is the Capitol Bureau Chief of The Oklahoman. A graduate of Humboldt State University in Arcata, Calif., he worked as news editor for The Associated Press in Oklahoma City before joining The Oklahoman.
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