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Gov. Fallin pushes for funding for Indian cultural center

Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin and the governor of the Chickasaw Nation met with state House Republicans behind closed doors Monday to press their case for state funding to help complete construction of the American Indian Cultural Center and Museum in Oklahoma City.
by Randy Ellis Modified: April 8, 2014 at 4:00 pm •  Published: April 8, 2014
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Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin and the governor of the Chickasaw Nation met with state House Republicans behind closed doors Monday to press their case for state funding to help complete construction of the American Indian Cultural Center and Museum in Oklahoma City.

“Basically what I was encouraging them to do was to finish the project — quit kicking the can down the road,” Fallin said after emerging from the meeting. “It’s important for the state to be able to get a resolution to do something on the native cultural center.”

The state Senate previously has voted to use $40 million in excess revenues from the state’s Unclaimed Property Fund to help complete Oklahoma City’s partially built American Indian Cultural Center and Museum.

The issue is now before the House, which has a vote scheduled Wednesday in its Appropriations Committee.

Although backers claim to have the 51 votes of Democrats and Republicans needed to approve the measure if it ever makes it to a vote on the House floor, House Speaker Jeff Hickman said that the Republican leadership doesn’t want to bring it up unless the 51 votes can be found in Republican ranks, alone.

“This is another one of those major issues where we would want to make sure there were 51 Republican votes,” Hickman said Monday.

Hickman said the bill will have to make it out of committee before that becomes an issue.

“I don’t know,” he said, when asked whether 51 Republicans would support the measure.

“Members are coming at it from a lot of different positions,” he said.

“Some of them are very much in favor and some very much opposed and some just aren’t sure how we fund it or when we fund it.”

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by Randy Ellis
Investigative 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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