With a plan to build a new State Medical Examiner’s Office in Edmond facing uncertainty, Sen. Patrick Anderson is proposing that the state use one-time money from the Unclaimed Property Fund to construct the facility.
The State Supreme Court last year issued a ruling that would allow the state to proceed with the sale of $38.5 million in bonds to fund the project. However, the bonds have yet to be sold due to concerns from University of Central Oklahoma officials that the Legislature will not provide funding for the bond payments.
Anderson noted that if $38.5 million in bonds are sold to build the medical examiner’s office, they will be paid over a 30-year period, at a cost of $2.5 million each year. That plan, he said, would result in Oklahoma taxpayers spending $75 million on the building.
“The Medical Examiner’s Office has operated without accreditation since 2009, and this is simply unacceptable,” said Anderson, R-Enid. “This agency lacks the facilities and resources needed to perform basic functions. Given that the plan to take $40 million from the Unclaimed Property Fund for the American Indian Cultural Center and Museum is now dead, I am proposing we utilize those funds to support a core function of government and address the medical examiner’s needs.”
The state treasurer has been supportive of legislation that would divert money from the fund to help complete the American Indian Cultural Center and Museum.
“By using money from the Unclaimed Property Fund to address this problem, we could build the facility immediately and save Oklahoma taxpayers $35 million in the process,” Anderson said. “The chief medical examiner should be given credit for making progress with extremely limited resources, but the agency’s unaccredited status remains a source of shame for our state. The governor has asked lawmakers to turn their focus to more meaningful issues. I believe this is a matter of importance to the entire state, and it deserves our immediate attention.”