AUSTIN, Texas — One of the big items state lawmakers have yet to tackle is how they'll allocate nearly $16 billion in federal COVID relief funds.

The money comes with few strings attached, so the state will have flexibility to address the pandemic's effects. The nonprofit, data-driven organization Texas 2036 is encouraging lawmakers to target long-term solutions that will solve major policy challenges facing the state.

“First and foremost, we’re going to have to use them to address the ongoing COVID crisis,” said John Hryhorchuk, Vice President of Policy for Texas 2036. “But beyond that, there’s going to be billions left over that we think the state and lawmakers should be considering what kind of long-term investments can we really make to help our state solve problems that won’t just help us in the short term, but could help us knock out decades-long problems.”

Hryhorchuk said that includes infrastructure issues, expanding broadband, fixing the power grid, new investments in energy technologies and long-term water needs.

Lawmakers are expected to tackle how the money should be spent in the next special session anticipated for this fall.

Click the video link above to watch our full interview with Hryhorchuk, including his take on the rest of the federal funding state and local governments are expected to receive through federal stimulus legislation.