A Senate committee pitched a new funding plan Thursday for two Oklahoma museum projects.
The Senate Joint Committee on Appropriations and Budget voted 16-10 to use tax revenue from Internet and out-of-state purchases to provide $40 million to help complete the American Indian Cultural Center and Museum in downtown Oklahoma City.
The panel also voted 13-12 to divert $40 million in state sales tax collections to provide initial funding for the Oklahoma Museum of Popular Culture, commonly called OK Pop, planned for the Brady District in Tulsa.
Sen. Clark Jolley, the committee chairman, said money would start being allocated to both projects in the 2015 fiscal year, which starts July 1, 2014.
Jolley, R-Edmond, said the American Indian Cultural Center and Museum would receive use tax receipts for three years. A use tax is collected in lieu of a sales tax if a local resident makes a purchase online or out of state.
OK Pop would receive sales tax money for four years, he said.
The funding for the Oklahoma City museum would be for construction only and not for management, Jolley said.
“By finishing it we are cutting our losses to some extent because we will start to be able to have operational dollars flow into it,” he said.
Both proposals now head to the House Joint Committee on Appropriations and Budget, which is expected to take them up early next week.
Blake Wade, executive director of the Native American Cultural and Educational Authority, has said he has raised $40 million in private pledges to help complete the center. The pledges would turn into cash when the state matches that amount, which would be enough to pay for the project's completion, he said.
The center has benefited from three previous state bond issues totaling $63 million, as well as $14.5 million in federal funding and $4.9 million and 250 acres of land from Oklahoma City. A bill authorizing a $40 million bond issue for the center failed by one vote last year in the Senate. A growing number of legislators are leery about increasing the state's bond indebtedness.
Tulsa has pledged $3 million and Bank of Oklahoma has pledged a block of land valued at $2.5 million in the Brady Arts District for the OK Pop museum. A private campaign has been launched with a $1 million challenge grant from the George Kaiser Family Foundation.