Senate approves native center funding plan

IndianCulturalCenterMuseum1The state Senate today approved a plan to complete the American Indian Cultural Center and Museum (AICCM) without undertaking further state bond debt.

Senate Bill 1651 will fund completion of the project using $40 million in one-time monies from the state’s Unclaimed Property Fund, which will be matched by $40 million in private donations.  The proposal enables the project to be completed without accepting any federal debt financing, and eliminates the state agency structure of AICCM, removing its annual cost from the state budget.

Sen. Kyle Loveless, co-author of the measure, said the proposal represents the most fiscally conservative approach to complete the project.

IndianCulturalCenterMuseum2“Our plan enables us to complete this world-class facility without further indebting the state,” said Loveless, R-Oklahoma City.  “By paying cash and ending the state’s annual financial stake in the agency, we can keep our commitment to the project in a fiscally responsible way.  This will allow the state to efficiently repay bonds, remove recurring expenses from the budget, and begin realizing a return on its investment in the museum.”

Senate Bill 1651 will:
•  Allow for the responsible completion of a valuable state asset while maximizing private donations
•  Eliminate the Native American Cultural and Educational Authority as a state agency, removing its annual cost from the state’s budget
•  Prohibit the use of federal debt financing, which was previously authorized
•  Establish a structure for repayment of all previously expended state debt financing on the project.

Loveless said the project would have a positive economic and cultural impact on the state.

“Today we voted to complete our investment in a facility that is projected to have a $3.8 billion economic impact over the next 20 years,” Loveless added.  “This project places one of the state’s premier cultural destinations at the state’s biggest transportation crossroads.  If we don’t see this project through to completion, it would be an extraordinary failure in our responsibility to maintain a state asset with tremendous economic and cultural potential.”
IndianCulturalCenterLgSenate Bill 1651 now advances to the House for consideration.