87th LegislatureTaxes & SpendingSpecial Legislative Session Agenda to Include $16 Billion in Federal Coronavirus Funds, Says Abbott

The Texas legislature will meet in the fall to settle redistricting but will also be tasked with appropriating federal coronavirus relief dollars.
May 20, 2021
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When the legislature convenes in the fall for a fated redistricting special session, it will also be tasked with appropriating $16 billion in federal coronavirus relief funds.

Announced in an email to legislators Thursday night from Governor Abbott’s office, the federal money flowing to Texas will be one subject to tackle during the fall special session.

“As everybody knows, I will be calling a special session for redistricting in the fall, and have committed to Lt. Governor [Dan] Patrick, Speaker [Dade] Phelan, Chairs [Jane] Nelson and [Greg] Bonnen, and Vice Chairs [Eddie] Lucio and [Mary] Gonzalez that I will place the allocation of the nearly $16 billion in Coronavirus State Fiscal Recovery Relief federal funds on the same special call so the entire legislature can participate in the allocation process in a way that best serves all Texans,” read Abbott’s statement.

About $40 billion total will make its way to Texas from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) but only about $16 billion of it is earmarked for the state. The rest is destined for public schools, local governments, and infrastructure projects.

The money has two strings attached: it may not be used to cut taxes, directly or indirectly, nor may it be used to shore up pension systems.

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Abbott further applauded the legislature for its work on the budget, saying, “The Texas Legislature has crafted a conservative and balanced budget that will secure a more prosperous future for Texas. This budget will meet the needs of Texans and keeps government spending under control.”

During the budget conference committee, amending language from the House was stripped that would have required a special session to spend the funds — leaving that prerogative with the governor. But Abbott’s commitment absolves that concern by lawmakers and now another issue awaits the fall for resolution.

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Brad Johnson

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.