Allow me to set the record straight: No federal funding will be used in the restoration of the Texas Governor's Mansion, which was gutted in an arson fire one year ago.
"They were considering using federal funds," a spokeswoman for the State Preservation Board told this reporter, who admits to joining the chorus of media in noting the irony in such a budget that would use ARRA funds in repair the residence of the Texas governor, so adamently opposed to the federal legislation. Legislative leaders did agree to provide $22 million for the restoration, and federal stimulus funds were initially allocated for half the project. The funds, however, were replaced with state money "because of Gov. Rick Perry's opposition to some aspects of the stimulus program," reports Mike Ward of the Austin American-Statesman.
I regret the timing and error in having posted my previous blog after the change in the budget.
The good news for Texans is that the historic restoration of the Greek Revival-style mansion and the search for a lead architect are under way, with a $26-million budget from mostly state and some private funding.
Meanwhile, Perry, whose now defunct vision of a network of statewide tollroads known as was the Trans-Texas Corridor--once called "one of the biggest eminent domain grabs" in the country--is pushing his campaign for an amendment to the Texas Constitution that would protect Texas landowners from eminent domain abuses. Speaking in front of the Alamo yesterday, Perry said the land ownership is an essential Texas right. "Ninety percent of land in Texas is privately owned, and we must protect the rights of folks who own it."
The bill, if approved by voters in November, would "prohibit government officials from taking property and giving it to private developers to boost the tax base."
The Associated Press reports that U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, who has yet to declare but clearly intends to challenge Perry in the 2010 Republican primary, has said that the state government is ignoring property rights with plans to put toll roads around the state.