AUSTIN, Texas — Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed Senate Bill 8 into law Tuesday Nov. 8, which will allocate the nearly $16 billion in funding awarded to the state earlier this year through the federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). ARPA, also known as the COVID-19 stimulus package, was signed by President Joe Biden in March 2021 to provide $1.9 trillion to help with public health and economic recovery.
This package included the $1,400 stimulus checks, extended unemployment insurance benefits, increased Child Tax Credit and Earned Income Tax Credit, among many other things. Under ARPA, the state of Texas received nearly $16 billion to help with fiscal recovery.
"Senate Bill 8 allocates federal funding to support Texans in need, including our veterans, rural communities, small businesses, and frontline workers," said Governor Abbott. "Allocating these federal funds paves the way for a more prosperous, brighter future for all Texans, and I want to thank my partners in the Legislature for bringing this bill to my desk."
Under this bill, various state resources and programs will receive funds.
- $7.2 billion to the Unemployment Compensation Fund to pay back outstanding advances and to bring the balance of the fund to the statutory floor
- $500.475 million for broadband infrastructure
- $150 million for the deployment and reliable operations of next generation 911 service
- $180 million for the recovery of the tourism, travel and hospitality industry that haven’t received federal aid
- $160 million to address the federal Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) shortfall affecting Crime Victims Assistance grants
- $2 billion for state and local hospital surge staffing, antibody therapeutic drugs, and the operation of regional antibody infusion centers
- $378.3 million for critical staffing needs of frontline workers including recruitment and retention bonuses for nursing facilities, assisted living facilities and emergency medical services providers
- $75 million to support rural hospitals affected by COVID-19
- $113 million to support the operations and expansion of mental health services for Texas children and families
- $35 million to upgrade all nine Texas State Veteran Homes, along with negative pressure COVID-19 wards, and mobile high efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filtration units for the Homes
- $95 million to food banks in response to COVID-19
Upon signing SB8 into law, Gov. Abbott also filed a statement to clarify that this bill does not lead to the COVID-19 vaccine mandate in the Lone Star State.