Senate Minority Leader Andrew Rice on Wednesday challenged Senate Republican leaders to allow a floor vote on a proposed $40 million state bond issue to complete construction of the American Indian Cultural Center and Museum.
Rice said, "all 16 members of the Democratic caucus are ready to pass this important measure, and I challenge the Republicans to do the right thing and allow this measure to be heard on the floor of the state Senate."
The bond issue is a critical financing component for completion of the $170 million cultural center and museum, Rice said. In 1994, the Legislature and Gov. Frank Keating established the Native American Cultural and Educational Authority (NACEA), a state agency authorized to develop the American Indian Cultural Center and Museum. Now, for the second year in a row, Republican leaders have reneged on their legislative duty by saying the proposal would not be heard by the Senate.
“This is a short-sighted decision that directly undermines the American Indian Cultural Center and Museum,” said Rice, D-Oklahoma City. “If the state fails to uphold its responsibility to this facility, it casts doubt upon the legitimacy of the project, damaging private fundraising and commercial development efforts. I’m extremely disappointed Republican leaders have decided to abandon this project despite the good efforts of others involved like the City of Oklahoma City, the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce, and our sovereign tribal nations.”
Rice noted that Republican legislative leaders have been made aware that delaying completion of the project will dramatically increase final costs for completing the facility.
“It is fiscally irresponsible for the state to abdicate its responsibility to this project in the final stage of its completion,” Rice said. “This project is poised to make Oklahoma an international destination, producing significant tax revenues. If this proposal doesn’t come to a vote in the Senate, it will be a tremendous embarrassment to the Legislature and the state.”