NORMAN — House Speaker Jeff Hickman tried several different ways to get his legislative colleagues to fund completion of the American Indian Cultural Center and Museum.
It hasn’t worked, and funding to finish the massive building and grounds at Interstate 35 and I-40 was not included in the state’s budget agreement this past week.
Mr. Hickman said it was a matter of priorities. Yes, all budgets are about priorities and values. It’s also about common sense and practicality. Private interests had pledged to donate $40 million to the museum if the state would provide a matching $40 million. The state, tribes and others have already spent $91 million on the building.
It’s not likely those $40 million in pledges from major Oklahoma corporate interests will remain on the books much longer. Devon, Chesapeake and Continental had given them in good faith that the state would provide a match.
Unless a funding mechanism that rural lawmakers approve of is devised in the next two weeks, the building will remain unfinished and vacant for several more years. The security and maintenance tab alone for the state is about $70,000 per month.
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