In Austin, both the House and Senate have unveiled baseline budgets for the session, with the idea that additions would be negotiated over time. Sen. Tommy Williams (R-The Woodlands), who chairs the Senate Finance Committee, told reporters the Senate's budget was as close to last session as possible.
"I think that it's important for the Senate Finance Committee, as well as our colleagues in the Senate and the House, to have their voices heard in the budget," Williams said in a press conference alongside Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst. "So we endeavored to start as close as we can to where we ended up last session."
But it appears both sides have made at least one exception, which was a $1.6 million line item expenditure in each proposed budget for upgrades at the Alamo. Last legislative session, the General Land Office assumed ownership of the Alamo, with the Daughters of the Republic of Texas signing an interim management agreement.
"It's the Alamo," agency spokesman Mark Loeffler said simply when asked where the early appropriation was out the ordinary. "It's clearly a priority for all Texans, and we want to maintain it to the highest degree possible."
The $1.6 million expenditure is expected to cover a number of maintenance projects related to the environment around the Alamo, Loeffler said. Already, four major preservation projects are underway on the Alamo property.
The GLO's relationship with the Daughters of the Republic of Texas remains rather tense, at times. Most recently, GLO asked the Daughters to remove their private property from the Alamo, which some media termed an eviction. The two sides also have sparred over serving liquor in Alamo Hall at private rental events.
"For over 107 years, the DRT has proudly upheld strong standards at the shrine and have never allowed alcohol out of respect for the souls that sacrificed their lives for Texas freedom," DRT president Karen Thompson said, rather primly. "In the past, two 2-star Generals have respectfully led toasts with apple cider at Alamo Hall in adherence to the solemn decorum of the shrine."
Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson overruled the DRT, saying on-site liquor would not demean the sanctity of the site and would also make the hall more desirable for rentals.
Keep the Houston Press Free... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Houston with no paywalls.