NORMAN — The state has millions of dollars in its unclaimed property fund. Although it attempts to find the rightful owners several times a year, that fund continues to grow.
The idea of using unclaimed property fund assets to complete the stalled American Indian Cultural Center and Museum in Oklahoma City is worth legislative discussion this week.
Oklahoma City senator Kyle Loveless wants to tap the fund for $40 million, to be used with the same amount of pledged private funds, to complete the massive center along the North Canadian River, just east of Interstate 35 and south of I-40.
The state and other entities have already pumped more than $90 million into the facility. Lawmakers have been wary of a long-term bond issue to finish the structure. The unclaimed property fund, unlike other state resources, has few constituents.
If the state provides the cash infusion, it would come with a price. The legislation calls for the museum to turn over control to a public trust that would manage the facility and the surrounding businesses that are contemplated.
The stalled museum project, much like the crumbling state Capitol a few blocks away, is becoming an embarrassment to the state.
Lawmakers should give Sen. Loveless’ plan their full attention. If the state can assure there is money in the fund to pay legitimate claims, this museum funding plan just might work this time.
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