Appropriating the state’s $16.3 billion in COVID-19 fiscal relief funds and reapportioning legislative, congressional and State Board of Education districts were the top priorities for the third- special session of the 87th Legislature. Senate Bill 8,the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) appropriations bill, spends $13.3 billion of the $16.3 billion available to the state through two ARPA funding sources: the Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds and the Coronavirus Capital Projects Fund. The state's share of the Fiscal Recovery Funds totals $15.8 billion, and the state's share of the Capital Projects Fund is $500.5 million.
SB 8 appropriates all of the money the state received from the Capital Projects Fund for broadband infrastructure, with $75 million set aside for the Texas broadband pole replacement program. SB8 appropriates only $12.8 billion of the $15.8 billion state allocation of Fiscal Recovery Funds. The House proposal was to appropriate $3 billion for one-time payments to each property owner with a residence homestead exemption. Instead, the SB 8 conferees shelved this proposal and the $3 billion remains available for the Legislature to appropriate either during another special session or during the 88th Legislative session, beginning January 2023. For more on the property tax legislation lawmakers did enact, see this article.
The table below shows items of importance to counties funded in SB 8.
|Senate Bill 8: Items of Importance to Counties
|Dollars (in millions)
Use of Funds
|Unemployment Compensation Fund
|To pay back outstanding advances from the federal government and return the fund to the statutory floor.
||Surge staffing, therapeutic drugs (including monoclonal antibody treatments) and regional infusion centers.
||Consistent with Govt. Code, Sec. 490I.0108. $75 million for broadband pole replacement.
|Critical staffing needs
||One-time grants for frontline health care workers and community attendants who work at nursing homes, assisted living and other facilities and home health agencies
|Governor’s Office: Tourism, travel and hospitality grants
||Tourism, travel and hospitality industry recovery grants.
|Governor’s Office: Victims of crime grants
||Funds to offset the shortfall in the federal Victims of Crime Act funding. Intent is that 2022-23 grants for crime victims equal grants made in fiscal year 2021.
|Texas Department of Agriculture: Food banks and home-delivered meals
||$95 million for Texas food banks and $5 million for home-delivered meal grant programs.
|Texas Child Mental Health Consortium
||Expanding mental health initiatives for children.
|Teacher Retirement System – TRS Care and TRS Active Care
||Funding for COVID-19-related claims. Intent is to avoid premium increase for retirees.
|State hospital in Dallas
||Construction of new state mental health hospital in Dallas.
|9-1-1 next generation
||Funding to transition 9-1-1 outdated legacy telecommunications infrastructure to process 9-1-1 calls from digital communication devices and increase 9-1-1 call volume capacity.
||Grants to support rural hospitals affected by the pandemic.
|Office of the Attorney General: Sexual Assault Acct. 5110
||To address projected shortfall in the account due to pandemic-related accelerated decline in court cost collections.
|Office of the Attorney General: Crime Victims Compensation Fund 469
||To address projected shortfall in the account due to the pandemic-related accelerated decline in court cost collections.
|Permian Basin Behavioral Health Center
||Construction of a 100-bed behavioral health center to serve the Permian Basin.
|Court case backlog
||Funds to address court case backlog: visiting judges ($7 million); Office of Court Administration court coordinators and IT ($3 million); Office of Capital and Forensic Writs ($200,000); transfer to Texas Commission on Law Enforcement Acct. 116 to address court cost shortfall ($5.8 million).
|Emergency Medical Services
||Funds to increase and incentivize EMS staffing, prioritizing rural and underserved areas.
|Federal Qualified Health Center (FQHC) Incubator Program
||FQHCs provide comprehensive health care services to underserved, often indigent communities. Incubator program last funded in 2012.
|Rio Grande Valley
||Upgrading laboratory facilities at Level 1 trauma facility in Hidalgo County and installation of a new laboratory in Starr County.
|Sunrise Canyon Hospital
||Increasing capacity at existing community-based inpatient mental health facility.
|General Land Office: Brazoria County Beach and Dune Maintenance
||Maintenance of 4,600 feet of beach and dune, with county assistance.
For more details on the funding provided by SB 8, see this worksheet.
For more information on this article, contact Zelma Smith.