TULSA - There's a plan afoot to move about $40 million from the Oklahoma unclaimed property fund and use to help finish building a Native American cultural center and museum in Oklahoma City.
The move is not unprecedented; Tim Allen with State Treasurer Ken Miller's office says the legislature has used some of the money from the fund for other purposes over the years.
It's legal, but Miller has warned lawmakers to be careful how they do it, Allen says.
"This is other people's money," he said. "This is not tax dollars."
The unclaimed property fund is valued at about $500 million, but the state only has about $90 million on hand currently.
Treasurer Miller was asked how much the legislature could safely appropriate, and came up with the $40 million figure.
Last year, the unclaimed fund returned about $16 million to people, which was a record.
So far this fiscal year, it has returned about $20 million -- smashing the old record, with two months to go.
Part of the reason is a pilot program offering incentives to Treasure Department employees, who get bonuses based on how much money they return.
If you think you might have unclaimed money -- from old utility deposits, for example, or income tax returns -- you can visit the Your Money page on the State Treasurer's website, search for your name, and start a claim.
The Native American Cultural and Educational Authority (NACEA) was created by the Oklahoma state legislature in 1994.
It's task is to design, construct and operate the American Indian Cultural Center and Museum.
The NACEA needs another $80 million to complete the project.
It hopes to get the $40 million from the unclaimed property fund, and organizers say they have raised the other $40 million through private donations.