The third special session of 2021 ended on Monday, October 18th. In this Special Session, the two major items under consideration were Redistricting plans and the appropriation of the $16 billion for federal ARPA funding. The House and Senate worked to appropriate the necessary funds to SB 8 which includes major items such as unemployment insurance, various systems upgrades, food banks, and funding to shore up the Teacher Retirement System.  Here are a few items we have supported or followed. 

  • The ARPA funding bill includes $160 million for VOCA bridge funding. This funding will help support the reduction in federal VOCA funding over the next two years. 
  • $113 million to the Child Mental Health Consortium (UT System) to expand child mental health initiatives, including expanding the CPAN network, MH workforce, and telehealth
  • $500 million to the Comptroller for broadband infrastructure expansion
  • $1.2 million for the Children’s Advocacy Centers to enhance the information technology case management system
  • $20 million for the Health and Human Services Commission for the creation of the internet portal for Medicaid and C.H.I.P.

SB8 was fully approved by the House and the Senate and is on the way to the Governors desk. You can find the full appropriated funds here.

Additionally, the Committee on Youth Health and Safety has met throughout this special session to discuss the effects that COVID-19 has on the youth of this state. The Texas Health and Human Services Commission testified on the impacts the pandemic had on this population and system, including: 

  • The increase of use in telemedicine services
  • Workforce shortages across the state and spectrum of services 
  • Strategies used to serve children 

You can find the entire presentation here. As the special session comes to an end in the upcoming days, we will continue to monitor for any additional developments and updates regarding to funding.