The state museum is $80 million short of completion, and fundraisers have gathered about $40 million in pledges from the private sector and the city. Last week, the Oklahoma City Council approved a measure to send $9 million toward finishing the on-again, off-again facility, located near Martin Luther King Boulevard and Interstate 40.
As part of the deal reached by state lawmakers, the governor must request an audit of the museum, prior to the consideration of any bond issue to fund the remaining $40 million. In addition, legislation must be considered that would consolidate the agency under the Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Department, and a full accounting of the costs and a completion plan must be submitted to all legislators.
“Auditing the project and demanding greater accountability from [AICCM] leaders simply makes good business sense,” said Senate President Pro Tempore Brian Bingman, R-Sapulpa. “Critical oversight that puts us all on a path forward to the project's completion is in the best interest of Oklahoma taxpayers, and together, we should continue to look at every move with seriousness and scrutiny."
Sen. Greg Treat, R-Oklahoma City, praised Bingman and Fallin for their work on the matter.
“It is in the best interest of the state that the museum and cultural center be a success, and we believe that until its completion, having it under the oversight of the Department of Tourism will give this project a better chance to realize its promise,” Treat said.
He joined state Senators Cliff Aldridge, R-Midwest City, and Patrick Anderson, R-Enid, in crafting the proposal.
Those leading the charge for the cultural center said they support the plan.
Blake Wade, CEO of the Native American Cultural and Educational Authority, said he is supportive of the legislature’s proposal, and excited that a path to completion seems imminent.
“My No. 1 priority is to see this project finished and to deliver a high-quality facility and museum to Oklahoma taxpayers,” said Wade. “I am excited that the legislature has outlined a path forward and a realistic scenario under which the state can match the private dollars already raised in support of the AICCM.”
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