FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 19, 2021
AUSTIN, TX — As the Third Called Special Session of the 87th Texas Legislature comes to an end, Senator Juan "Chuy" Hinojosa co-authored Senate Bill 8, legislation that will provide funding for projects in the Rio Grande Valley, Senate Bill 52 which invests in our universities, and Senate Joint Resolution 2 which would provide additional property tax relief for homeowners, if approved by the voters in May 2022.
SB 8 by Senator Jane Nelson, which appropriates $13.3 billion in federal funds from the American Rescue Plan Act spearheaded by President Joe Biden and approved by the United States Congress earlier this year, was passed by the Texas Legislature and is now headed to the Governor for final approval. The bill includes $16.7 million for upgrading existing laboratory facilities associated with a level 1 trauma facility in Hidalgo County and new laboratory infrastructure in Starr County. Additionally, this bill appropriates $180 million in funding for recovery grants for tourism, travel, and hospitality industry, $2 billion for state and local hospital surge staffing, $500 million for broadband infrastructure, $95 million for food banks, an additional $15 million for community colleges for workforce training under the TRUE program, $52 million for the Sexual Assault Program for victims of domestic violence, and $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. These are just some of the highlights of items funded in the bill.
The Legislature also passed SB 52 by Senator Brandon Creighton, which invests in public universities across the state to fund capital projects or improve existing facilities on their campuses. Senate Bill 52 includes $44.9 million in funding for the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley that can be used for a health affairs building or deferred maintenance, including the replacement of a chiller at one of their campuses as well as any other necessary repair needed to their existing facilities.
SJR 2 by Senator Paul Bettencourt proposes to increase the mandatory homestead exemption for school district taxes from $25,000 to $40,000. This will result in homeowners receiving property tax relief every year. Since this is a constitutional amendment, it would have to be approved by the voters in May 2022 before it takes effect.
Senator Juan "Chuy" Hinojosa made the following statement:
"During the Third Called Special Session, our RGV legislative delegation worked together and advocated for funding for our South Texas priorities. I am pleased that in addition to funding grants for tourism, broadband expansion, replenishing the Unemployment Compensation Fund to help our businesses, and many other investments, we were also able to secure funds for local projects. We continue to secure funding that increases access to care and makes investments in health care infrastructure to better serve our community. Senate Bill 8 includes $16.7 million to upgrade existing laboratory facilities associated with a level 1 trauma facility in Hidalgo County and construct a new laboratory in Starr County.
I also applaud Lt. Governor Dan Patrick's request for construction projects for universities and appreciate Governor Abbott for adding this item to the special session call. Our universities not only educate our students, they are also economic drivers for our communities. Many institutions have facilities that need to be repaired or replaced and the $44.9 million appropriated to UTRGV in Senate Bill 52 can be used for construction or for the replacement of a thermal energy plant as well as new chillers to provide proper temperature control in their buildings.
Lastly, I encourage the voters to support Senate Joint Resolution 2 next May to provide much needed property tax relief to homeowners. This proposed constitutional amendment would increase the homestead exemption for school districts from $25,000 to $40,000, with no adverse impacts on our schools."