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Gov. Greg Abbott Signs Bill Allocating Federal COVID-19 Relief Funds For Texans

AUSTIN, Texas (CBSDFW.COM) – Governor Greg Abbott signed Senate Bill 8 into law on Monday, Nov. 8, allocating the nearly $16 billion federal American Rescue Plan Act funding awarded to the State of Texas earlier this year.

SB 8 allocated critical funding for various state resources and programs, the governor's office said in a news release.

That funding includes:

$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 including equipment and administration costs
$180 million for tourism, travel, and the hospitality industry recovery (for those who have not 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, home health facilities, community attendants, and emergency medical services providers
$75 million to support rural hospitals that have been 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 for supplemental funding to food banks in response to COVID-19

"Senate Bill 8 allocates federal funding to support Texans in need, including our veterans, rural communities, small businesses, and frontline workers," said Gov.Abbott in a statement. "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."

In addition, the Governor provided a filing statement clarifying that the bill does not legally lead to a COVID-19 vaccine mandate in the State of Texas.

"Senate Bill No. 8 from the 87th Legislature, Third Called Session, appropriates funds made available to the State of Texas under the federal American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, Pub. L. No. 117-2," reads the statement. "The Texas Attorney General has advised that the State's receipt and use of these so-called 'ARPA Funds' does not legally lead to a COVID-19 vaccine mandate in Texas. Based on this understanding, I signed and approved this bill."

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