The Senate Finance Committee today unanimously approved the Committee Substitute to Senate Bill 8 by Senate Finance Chair Jane Nelson (R-Flower Mound) allocating federal funds designated for Texas in the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA).

Chair Nelson released the following statement and overview of the bill:

“‘Our workgroups drilled down into over 200 requests and brought forth solid recommendations to improve this funding package, which will bolster Texas’ ongoing pandemic response and recovery,’ Senator Nelson said. ‘These are one-time expenditures that will help our businesses, boost tourism, support frontline workers across the health care industry, ensure health care premiums level for our retired and active teachers do not rise as a result of the pandemic, expand access to mental health and help crime victims. These are strategic investments that take into account the wide range of needs that emerged from the pandemic.’

CSSB 8 appropriates a total of $16.3 billion from ARPA — $15.8 billion from the Coronavirus State Fiscal Recovery Fund and another $500.5 million from the Coronavirus Capital Projects Fund, including:

  • $7.2 billion to replenish the Unemployment Compensation Fund, ensuring that businesses are not faced with an increase in unemployment taxes due to pandemic-related layoffs;
  • $2 billion to deploy healthcare surge staffing, purchase therapeutic drugs, and support regional infusion centers;
  • $3.7 billion to cover salaries and benefits for state employees directly working on pandemic response;
  • $500.5 million for broadband expansion, with $75 million of those funds designated for a broadband pole replacement program (out of the Coronavirus Capital Projects Fund);
  • $400 million to offer one-time retention bonuses to retain critical staffing for nursing facilities, assisted living centers, home health services, community attendants, and emergency medical services;
  • $75 million in one-time grants for rural hospitals;
  • $25 million to streamline the Medicaid/Children’s Health Insurance Program enrollment process and modernize the State’s Medicaid eligibility system;
  • $5 million for the Texas Federally Qualified Health Center Incubator Program to increase access to healthcare services statewide;
  • $286 million to the Teacher Retirement System to cover COVID-related health claims and to ensure no active or retired teacher faces an increase in health care premiums due to the pandemic;
  • $325 million for construction projects at institutions of higher education, contingent on the passage of legislation;
  • $40 million the Texas Epidemic Public Health Institute;
  • $15 million in grants for re-skilling and upskilling programs at Texas’ community colleges;
  • $300 million for a State Operations Center to aid the state in disaster response;
  • $200 million to bolster cybersecurity;
  • $160 million to shore up funding for organizations serving sexual assault survivors and other crime victims;
  • $1.2 million to fund a new IT system for Children’s Advocacy Centers;
  • $237.8 million to expand access to mental health care by completing construction of a new state psychiatric hospital in Dallas;
  • $113 million to the Texas Child Mental Health Care Consortium to expand mental health treatment options for young Texans struggling with depression and suicide;
  • $35 million to upgrade filtration and ventilation systems at Texas veterans homes;
  • $200 million to provide grants to support the tourism industry; and
  • $100 million to support Texas food banks, including $5 million for home-delivered meals, to serve high numbers of Texans experiencing food insecurity.”