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Osage Congress votes down request for additional $6 million

By

Benny Polacca

During the December special session, the Fourth Osage Nation Congress voted down a resolution requesting that the Gaming Enterprise Board include an additional $6 million in its distribution of tribal money to the Nation’s government.

Through majority “no” votes, the Congress turned down the resolution (ONCR 16-06 sponsored by Congressman Ron Shaw) seeking the additional $6 million, which would require the gaming board to amend its annual plan of operations to include the $6 million distribution of tribal revenue that the Nation uses to fund its government operations and payroll.

Currently, the Nation receives a distribution of $40 million for ON government operations and that figure is based off the annual projected reports delivered by gaming officials every year. The $40 million figure has also remained steady since it was approved by the Second ON Congress as it sought to fund the government and to fund expansion projects throughout the Osage Casino enterprise. Since then, the Sand Springs casino has undergone renovations and two identical casino/ hotel properties were built at Skiatook and Ponca City.   

Shaw said he proposed the resolution as a possible solution to the budget issues, which includes a low amount of unappropriated tribal money left for the 2016 fiscal year. He also noted the resolution was only a request to the gaming board for the additional money meaning the board would not be obligated to grant the request.

Congresswoman Shannon Edwards is among those who opposed the resolution. She said in order for the Gaming Enterprise to continue casino projects, she believes the Nation should hold its course for a few more years to save money.

Congresswoman Alice Buffalohead said she also opposed the resolution amid the budgeting process. “I’m not in agreement with hitting the ceiling on where our budget is and then going over and saying: ‘please sir, may I have some more?’ in trying to get more money when we don’t even know where it’s going to go,” she said.

Congressman Otto Hamilton, who co-sponsored the resolution, said casino officials informed the Congress that the $6 million would not impact them, adding “it was a good year, they have it to give to us… This is a way to increase our annual distribution, I vote ‘yes’.”

The resolution failed with six “no” votes from Congress members Buffalohead, Edwards, John Maker, Angela Pratt, William “Kugee” Supernaw, and Speaker Maria Whitehorn. “Yes” votes came from Hamilton, RJ Walker, Archie Mason and James Norris and two absences that day from John Jech and Shaw.


Original Publish Date: 2016-01-14 00:00:00

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Benny Polaccahttps://osagenews.org
Benny Polacca started at the Osage News in 2009 as a reporter and has covered various stories and events impacting the Osage Nation and Osage people. Polacca is part of the News team awarded the Native American Journalist Association’s Elias Boudinot Free Press Award in 2014 and other NAJA Media Awards and SPJ Oklahoma Pro Chapter awards for news coverage and photography. Polacca is an Arizona State University graduate and participated in the former American Indian Journalism Institute at the University of South Dakota. He previously worked at The Forum newspaper covering the Fargo, N.D. region as the weeknight reporter.
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