Sen. Patrick Anderson has requested that the State Auditor and Inspector conduct an audit regarding the use of state dollars for the construction of the American Indian Cultural Center and Museum. Anderson’s request follows Thursday’s Senate and House committee approval of legislation authorizing $40 million in state bond money for the ongoing construction project.
Anderson noted the state owes more than $5.5 million annually in debt service payments on previous bond issues for the American Indian Cultural Center and Museum. If approved by the Legislature, the additional $40 million bond package would increase annual debt service payments for the center to $9 million.
“The Legislature is currently being asked to approve an additional $40 million in new bonds for the center,” said Anderson, R-Enid. “However, we have been provided no information detailing how prior bond funds have been spent. Given the significant amount of debt service payments we currently face as a result of previous bonds for the center, it’s important we have a better understanding of where our tax dollars are going.”
To date, the state of Oklahoma has issued over $63 million in bonds for the project. Following the 2008 approval of a $25 million bond for the project, a spokesperson for the Center said private contributions would account for the rest of the remaining $100 million price tag. The Legislature in 2005 approved another $33 million in bonds for the project.
“Before we proceed, I think it would be prudent for the Legislature to have a clear picture of where previous bond monies have gone,” Anderson said. “Given our current budget status, and the level of our bonded indebtedness, we should be very careful before accepting any additional burdens.”