P.O. Box 12068, State Capitol
Austin, Texas 78711
Tel. (512) 463-0112
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 1, 2021
AUSTIN — Texas State Senator Jane Nelson, R-Flower Mound, today filed SB 8, which allocates federal funds designated for Texas in the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA).
“COVID-19 impacted Texas on many fronts, and this bill takes a holistic approach to address a wide range of needs that emerged during the pandemic,” Senator Nelson said. “It holds businesses harmless for pandemic-related layoffs, reinforces our frontline health care workforce, expands access to mental health care, supports health care for our teachers, and bolsters resources for crime victims. These are strategic, one-time investments that will strengthen our ongoing recovery from the pandemic."
SB 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;
- $3 billion to deploy hospital 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);
- $500 million for construction projects at institutions of higher education, contingent on the passage of legislation;
- $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;
- $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;
- $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; and
- $100 million to support Texas food banks, which continue to serve high numbers of Texans in need.