The Texas Senate on Friday voted 31-0 on a third reading to pass a bill allocating $16.3 billion worth of COVID relief funds.
The measure now moves to the Texas House, where it will likely undergo additional revisions.
Senate Bill 8 — one of Gov. Greg Abbott's original priorities for the third special legislative session — was a committee substitute that incorporated 12 hours of public testimony from 70 individuals on Monday. Members of the Senate submitted almost 200 additional requests for funding priorities.
"Many of the items in the filed version of Senate Bill 8 remain unchanged," said committee chairwoman Senator Jane Nelson, R-Flower Mound — the bill's author. "It provides $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."
Other spending items retained from the original bill included, but were not limited to:
- $500.5 million for broadband expansion, including $75 million for broadband pole replacement
- $300 million to pay for a state operations center to aid the state in disaster response
- $286.3 million would go to the Teacher Retirement System to cover COVID-related healthcare claims
- $237.8 million to expand access to mental health care by completing construction of a new state psychiatric hospital in Dallas
- $200 million would go to cybersecurity projects
- $113 million would go to the Texas Child Mental Health Care Consortium to combat the surge in young Texans struggling with depression and the risk of suicide
- $100 million would go to the Department of Agriculture for foodbanks
Continue reading at Houston Public Media.