The Senate Appropriations Committee today approved a proposal to complete the American Indian Cultural Center and Museum with one-time monies from the state’s Unclaimed Property Fund.
The fund, which is comprised of lost and unclaimed monies and no tax or fee revenue, will allow the project to be completed without further obligating the taxpayers and without taking any federal funds. Senate Bill 1651 will take $40 million out of the fund, which will be matched by $40 million in private donations, to help pay for completion of the project.
Sen. Kyle Loveless, who presented the measure, said the plan was the most fiscally-responsible way to fund the project.
“Our proposal gives us the opportunity to complete an asset that will serve as a source of pride for Oklahomans, without adding debt,” said Loveless, R-Oklahoma City. “This project will have a lasting cultural and economic impact on the state, and allow us to share and better understand our unique history. Our plan enables us to keep our commitment to this extraordinary facility, and begin realizing a return on our investment.”
The bill will:
Responsibly complete the project while maximizing private funding
Eliminate the state agency structure and transfer into a public trust
Prohibit federal funding, which previously was authorized
Provide structure for repayment of public indebtedness, which previously was expended
Last year, the practice of using unclaimed property monies for ongoing budget expenditures was ended.
“If we don’t complete this project, the state would fail to capitalize on a projected $3.8 billion economic impact over the next 20 years,” Loveless said. “As a conservative, I believe it is critical that we scrutinize every expenditure, but it’s also important that we understand our commitment to this project is an investment. Finishing the facility with one-time monies is a fiscally responsible approach to the management of this important state asset.”
Senate Bill 1651 now advances to the full Senate.