Texas lawmakers are disturbed by the General Land Office’s level of transparency of the state’s Alamo Redesign and Restoration Project. The Senate Finance Committee on Tuesday began digging into those plans and how the $75 million in state funds for the project will be spent.
One of Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick’s interim legislative charges for Senate lawmakers was to monitor how those state funds, which make up only a portion of the total cost of the project, are being used.
General Land Commissioner George P. Bush told members of the Senate Finance Committee the $450 million plan to renovate and reimagine the Alamo complex involves public funds through his office, a partnership with San Antonio, and private money raised by non-profit groups.
“We signed a cooperative agreement, pursuant to the enabling legislation to recapture the 1836 battlefield as well as to preserve the church and long barracks which are the only remaining structures from the 1836 battle,” said Bush to the Senate.
Bush said the meetings and discussions with the nonprofits about those plans are not subject to the state’s Public Information Act. That’s a “line in the sand” that did not sit well with several state lawmakers, including State Sen. Kirk Watson, D-Austin.
“Commissioner, you don’t have to have legislation to do it, you can do it, you’re choosing not to do it," Watson said. "I’m not sure who you are trying to protect; I think your first goal should be to protect the taxpayers of the State of Texas as they make a decision.”
The General Land Office’s master plan for the project is expected to be completed by 2024, the 300 anniversary of construction of the Alamo on its current site.