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OK Speaker To File Legislation That Could Give Native American Cultural Center To OKC

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The half-finished museum and cultural has been sitting idle along the Oklahoma River for almost three years as project managers sought the additional $80 million needed to complete it. The half-finished museum and cultural has been sitting idle along the Oklahoma River for almost three years as project managers sought the additional $80 million needed to complete it.
OKLAHOMA CITY -

News 9 has learned that the Speaker of the Oklahoma House will file legislation on Tuesday, that could potentially result in the state turning over the controversial Native American Cultural Center project to the City of Oklahoma City. 

The half-finished museum and cultural has been sitting idle along the Oklahoma River for almost three years, as project managers sought the additional $80 million needed to complete it.

Legislative leaders have been hinting for at least a year at the possibility of transferring operation – and ultimately ownership – of the Center to Oklahoma City, which has a proven history of successfully building and operating similarly large projects through its MAPS program. 

Legislators have been sharply divided over the question of putting more state dollars toward a project that's already cost taxpayers more than $70 million and which, in total, has cost more than $90 million.

Sources tell News 9 that, under the bill being proposed, the state would approve a $25-million bond, but that there would be no increase in the state's annual appropriation to the Native American Cultural and Educational Authority, which currently oversees the project. 

The deal would depend on the ability of the Authority to negotiate a deal with Oklahoma City leaders to accept operational responsibility for the Center, and to procure as much as $40 million in funding from other sources, including several tribal nations.

Going back to the 2012 legislative session, project leaders had been asking the state to commit an additional $40 million, which they said would be matched by private and other entities. Legislative leaders say, in the last several months, the contractor has identified $15 million in savings, meaning the state could reduce its commitment to $25 million.

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