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Lawmaker Wants Specifics On Centennial Spending

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ A lawmaker is criticizing the Oklahoma Centennial Commission for not being specific enough on the amount of money it is spending on projects for the state's 100th birthday bash.

Rep. Mike Reynolds, R-Oklahoma City, urged the Oklahoma Centennial Commission on Tuesday to reveal how much state money is scheduled to be spent on each of 147 projects announced at a meeting last week.

``It's not enough to tell the taxpayers where their money will be spent. They have a right to know how much will be spent,'' Reynolds said.

The lawmaker criticized one project which he said appeared to have little relation to Oklahoma's statehood _ the ``Venture West'' 2007 Capitol Conference.

``How does giving thousands of taxpayer dollars to wealthy venture capitalists to fund seminars qualify as a celebration of Oklahoma's centennial?'' Reynolds asked.

Blake Wade, executive director of the Centennial Commission, said he agreed that taxpayers deserved to know specifics of spending by the panel.

``The commission just got the word from the attorney general last week that it was legal for us to put together a list of projects,'' he said.

``We are now going out to each project and asking them for an update on how much money is needed, do they have matching funds and can they get the project done by the end of the year,'' he said.

Wade said when the commission gets that information, ``we will make a decision on how much to provide each centennial project.''

As far as the venture capitalist meeting, Wade said his group is only providing out-of-town guests with a centennial medallion at a nominal cost as a remembrance that they attended the conference during the state's 100th birthday year.

He said the commission was proud to do that for such a ``pro business'' group. He said leading state businessmen are involved in the project, along with the Oklahoma Department of Commerce.

The commission decided in Seminole last week to release $15 million for projects across the state after getting the legal go-ahead from Attorney General Drew Edmondson.

Edmondson's advice came after the Oklahoma Supreme Court decided not to approve an injunction to stop $140 million in state funding, including money for the centennial projects.

The merits of a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the funding will still be heard by the state high court.
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