Oklahoma Indian museum supporters remain hopeful

Published on NewsOK Modified: April 28, 2014 at 4:19 pm •  Published: April 28, 2014
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OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Supporters of a plan to spend $40 million in state money to help finish construction of a Native American museum in Oklahoma City said Monday they are trying to come up with a new funding plan after the original proposal stalled before a House deadline.

One idea being discussed is a three-year deal for $15 million in next year's budget, followed by $15 million in Fiscal Year 2016, and $10 million in 2017, said Rep. David Dank, R-Oklahoma City.

"That would be primarily from the Unclaimed Property Fund," Dank said.

Dank said some members of the GOP-controlled House would prefer funding the project through general appropriations, while others want to tap into the state's Rainy Day Fund. That constitutional reserve fund currently has a balance of about $530 million, but only a portion of that can be accessed by agreement between the governor and legislative leaders.

"I don't care where they take it from," Dank said.

The Senate earlier this session passed a bill that would have tapped $40 million from the state's Unclaimed Property Fund to match another $40 million in non-state funds, including contributions from private donors and each of the state's 39 federally recognized Indian tribes.

But supporters couldn't get the 51 Republican votes that House Speaker Jeff Hickman said he wanted before moving that proposal forward. As a result, the bill stalled by not getting a hearing before last week's deadline for floor action in the House.