OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ Gov. Brad Henry says he will do his best to ensure funds are available to match a $33 million federal appropriation to build a Native American Cultural Center, but acknowledged that funding the museum will be a challenge because of state budget shortfalls.
Henry, appearing Tuesday at a reception at the Ford Center, said he is committed to building the museum and is contemplating using bond money if necessary to get construction started.
``Everything is on the table right now,'' Henry said. ``The important thing is that we be smart and vigilant and make sure this gets done.
``The Native American Cultural Center will absolutely be a wonderful, fabulous economic-enhancing, culturally enriching facility.''
Plans call for the center, including a 125,000-square-foot museum and a 75,000-square-foot marketplace, to be built at the junction of Interstate 40 and Interstate 35 along the south banks of the North Canadian River.
For every federal dollar, two matching nonfederal dollars must be raised by the Native American Cultural and Educational Authority.
The state is facing a $600 million budget shortfall because of falling state revenue.
``Obviously, in the very near future it will be difficult for the state itself,'' Henry said. ``But we've already got the seed money.
``We need to look to the private sector to try to raise money, similar to what we did for the dome at the Capitol.''
He highlighted the museum, along with education, as priorities in his inauguration speech last week.
``I didn't have the leaders of the 39 federally recognized tribes and nations on the stage with us for the inaugural festivities for no reason. It's something I am very passionate about, something
I am very committed to.''