Making up the largest portion of the final version’s total is a $7.2 billion replenishment of the state’s unemployment insurance fund that was depleted during the pandemic. Texas had to take out $6.9 billion in federal loans after its balance was used up early on in 2020. This injection will pay those off and replenish some into the fund that was used up.
The legislature also set aside $3 billion itemized for property tax relief during the 88th regular session in 2023. They will conduct a study during the interim to identify how to deploy those funds. This disbursement was delayed likely because Congress prohibited ARPA dollars from being used to cut taxes in any form. But that stipulation is currently being challenged in court and an Ohio district judge already ruled against the congressional condition.
A $2 billion item was settled on to increase health care staffing and buttress the industry’s response to coronavirus.
The remaining roughly $4 billion was used for an array of expenditures, such as:
- $500.5 million for broadband expansion
- $400 million for additional health care staffing across various types of facilities
- $325 million itemized for construction projects at state universities
- $300 million to create a State Operations Center for disaster response
- $286 million to the Teacher Retirement System for coronavirus-related expenses
- $237.8 million for a new Dallas psychiatric hospital
- $200 million toward cybersecurity measures
- $200 million in aid to the state’s tourism industry
- $160 million for the Office of the Attorney General’s crime victims aid functions
- $113 million toward the Texas Child Mental Health Care Consortium for mental health treatment
- $100 million for Texas food banks
- $40 million to the Texas Epidemic Public Health Institute
- $35 million to upgrade veteran homes
- $25 million for the state’s Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program funds
- $24 million to make headway on case backlogs in the judicial system
- $20 million to the Texas Federally Qualified Health Center Incubator Program
- $15 million to community colleges for skilled program grants
- $1.2 million for a new IT system at Children’s Advocacy Centers
Lt. Governor Dan Patrick and Speaker Dade Phelan said in a joint statement, “The Texas House and Senate have come to an agreement on a bold financial package using both ARPA and state dollars to address health issues related to COVID-19, and the financial impact on homeowners, businesses and education.”
“We are also announcing a bold plan to create endowments in the 2023 Texas budget to preserve historic buildings, sites and our state parks for future generations. These endowments will help with maintenance and repair so that our wonderful parks and historic sites remain world-class.”
Sen. Jane Nelson (R-Flower Mound), who carried this bill as likely her final legislative accomplishment as she will not seek re-election in 2022, said of the outlays, “These are strategic, one-time investments that will help us move beyond the pandemic and keep Texas strong, prosperous, and healthy.”
Per ARPA, the state has until 2024 to disburse the money. But getting it done now means a lighter plate when the legislature reconvenes either for another special session or for the 2023 regular session.
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Brad Johnson is an Ohio native who graduated from the University of Cincinnati in 2017. He is an avid sports fan who most enjoys watching his favorite teams continue their title drought throughout his cognizant lifetime. In his free time, you may find Brad quoting Monty Python productions and trying to calculate the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow.