The Norman Transcript

March 6, 2014

Time to finish work on cultural center

The Norman Transcript

NORMAN — Sponsors of a bill to provide $40 million in funding from the state’s unclaimed property fund to complete the American Indian Cultural Center and Museum have their work cut out for them.

The legislation passed the Senate 30-17 on Tuesday and now heads to the state House, where its fate is unsure. Norman’s two senators, John Sparks and Rob Standridge, supported the measure. Moore Sen. Anthony Sykes voted against it.

Taking money from the state’s unclaimed property fund is not a perfect scenario, but it’s the best idea offered to date. Lawmakers have turned down a bond issue to complete the museum, which sits unfinished just east of the intersection of Interstate 40 and Interstate 35.

As it is, it’s an embarrassment to the state and a slap to the 39 federally recognized tribes who believed Oklahoma would follow through and build the facility as promised decades ago.

Work began in 2005, and about $91 million in public and private funds have been spent so far. The museum board said it needs another $80 million to complete and open by 2017. About $40 million in pledges from tribes, the city of Oklahoma City and corporate interests have been waiting for a match from the state.

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