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Oklahoma Senate unveils plan to fund American Indian Cultural Center

State senators have developed a new funding plan for completing Oklahoma City’s American Indian Cultural Center, state Sen. Kyle Loveless, R-Oklahoma City, confirmed Tuesday.
Oklahoman Published: February 19, 2014

Oklahoma’s Unclaimed Property Fund would be tapped for $40 million to help complete Oklahoma City’s American Indian Cultural Center and Museum under a proposal confirmed Tuesday by the state Senate.

“I hope it happens,” said J. Blake Wade, chief executive director of the entity developing the American Indian museum. “Hopefully it will work out over the next days and weeks. I’d be very delighted.”

The plan will be presented to the state Senate Appropriations Committee for consideration on Wednesday and could be presented to the full Senate for consideration as early as next week, said state Sen. Kyle Loveless, R-Oklahoma City, co-author of the Senate Bill 1651.

The bill calls for the state to take $40 million in excess funds from the Unclaimed Property Fund and use that money to match $40 million in pledged private donations, Loveless said. The state will not release the money unless the private matching funds are provided, he said.

Officials have said the combined $80 million would be enough to complete the $170 million project, which remains unfinished despite $91 million already having been spent on it — including $67.4 million from the state.

The plan would not involve the issuance of any new revenue bonds, which could help resolve concerns expressed by state House members who have balked in the past at the prospect of the state issuing new debt.

State Treasurer Ken Miller is supportive of the proposal, said Tim Allen, his deputy treasurer for communications and program administration. The $40 million from the Unclaimed Property Fund is beyond what is necessary to make sure that anyone who files a valid claim with the state for abandoned property gets paid, he said.

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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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