Editorial: $50m more in government debt

During the last fiscal year, the State of Oklahoma had a $611,000,000 budget shortfall. That wasn’t an actual shortfall but just a budget miscalculation.

Because the state must balance its budget, the new budget cut about 1 percent from last year’s totals. Some agencies got a bit more money, some stayed the same and other experienced minor cuts.

But legislators made the state financial picture worse by borrowing $50,000,000.00 to finance two museums, one in Oklahoma City and another in Tulsa.

The Indian Heritage Center in Oklahoma has never been finished and never been open for business. The state dishes out $1,900,000.00 a year for a budget for a boondoggle.

Now, lawmakers approved $25,000,000.00 in borrowed money to finish the museum so it can be donated to Oklahoma City so city leaders can handle the mess. That deal is not fully guaranteed.

If Oklahoma City gets to borrow money, Tulsa should get to borrow money, too. That’s according to the GOP leadership in the Legislature plus the Tulsa Chamber of Commerce and other rich king makers.

So, Tulsa gets a “pop culture” museum with a $25,000,000.00 mortgage. If it operates like the Jazz Hall of Fame, it will require a constant subsidy (probably from taxpayer funds).

When government runs a museum, it almost never makes money and many lose money. Why is the government building museums?

Does the chamber believe that Tulsa is a repository of “pop culture” and that visitors from around America will come here and pay good money to see a pop museum?

That $50,000,000.00 should have never been approved. If the state has that much extra money, it should be spent to cut the state income tax rate.