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May 18, 2013

Tax plan gets projects going

NORMAN — A deal to divert state use taxes to fund completion of the American Indian Cultural Center Museum in Oklahoma City and build the Museum of Popular Culture in Tulsa looks like a good way to get some momentum on both projects.

A state Senate committee voted to use $80 million in Internet use taxes over four years for the two museums. The American Indian museum project is shut down, and supporters say it needs state and private donations for completion.

The Pop museum in Tulsa is a proposed 75,000-square-foot, four-story building being promoted by the Oklahoma Historical Society. It’s a place where celebrities with Oklahoma roots can leave memorabilia for future generations of visitors. The site has been secured in Tulsa but project principals fear it’ll be passed over if the state doesn’t act.

Lawmakers have resisted approving long-term debt to complete the American Indian museum.

Some have suggested the project has been mismanaged and more state money isn’t the answer.

But leaving the project idle isn’t the answer either. As it stands, it’s a mysterious eyesore for the thousands of travelers who pass by on the crossing interstate highways.

If Congress forces Internet retailers to collect sales taxes on products sold online, just as is done to in-store shoppers, the state’s take could increase incrementally and provide a boost to that fund.

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