Senate Bill 8 – Conference Committee Report Update

Last night, with a unanimous vote in both chambers, the Texas Legislature passed the conference committee report (CCR) for Senate Bill 8. In its final form, this bill allocates $13.3 billion of the available $16.3 billion in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds. Throughout the special session, the Legislature considered many worthwhile items for funding, some of which are highlighted below. This list provides a quick status update for items highlighted in our previous post. More analysis breaking down the full spending package is on its way in upcoming days.

Items for Consideration Senate Funding House Funding Difference Recommended Action Explanation Outcome
Unemployment Compensation Fund $7.2 Billion $6.4 Billion House  Appropriates $846.2 Million Less Adopt Senate Backfills the Unemployment Trust Fund, preventing tax increases for employers
Broadband Expansion $500.5 Million $450.2 Million House Appropriates $50.3 Million Less Adopt Senate Expands broadband infrastructure across the state
State Cybersecurity Projects $200.0 Million $703,342 House Appropriates $199.3 Million Less Adopt Senate Addresses increased cybersecurity threats since start of pandemic
Dallas State Hospital $237.8 Million $237.8 Million None Adopt Item; House includes in HB 161 Construction of a new Dallas State Hospital facilty
Next Generation 911 Upgrades $0.00 $149.9 Million Senate Does Not Include Adopt House Improves emergency communications technology and public safety response
Children’s Advocacy Center IT Improvements $1.2 Million $0.00 House Does Not Include Item Adopt Senate Improves IT Case Management for Children’s Advocacy Centers
HHSC Internet Portal for Medicaid and CHIP $20.0 Million $0.00 House Does Not Include Item Adopt Senate Upgrades IT for Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program
Medicaid IT System Upgrade $5.0 Million $0.00 House Does Not Include Item Adopt Senate Upgrades Information Technology for the Medicaid eligibility
Reskilling/Upskilling for Texans $15.0 Million $15.0 Million None No Difference; Adopt Item Bolsters Workforce Development in Texas
Federal Hospital Transperancy Rule Directive No Language Included Senate Does Not Include Adopt House Encourages Price Transparency in Texas Hospitals
Federal Funds Transparency Directive No Language Included Senate Does Not Include Adopt House Tracks Federal Funds Spending

As shown above, the conferees made significant investments in areas that will impact jobs, broadband, IT modernization, and mental health infrastructure. These investments will address immediate state needs while also setting the state up for improved economic growth and government services. The bill now heads to Comptroller Hegar for certification and Governor Abbott for signature.

While the CCR references landmark state hospital price transparency language passed during the regular session, the CCR no longer requires that a hospital be in compliance with state and federal transparency laws to be eligible to receive these ARPA funds.

CCR language modifies the LBB’s reporting requirements to focus only on ARPA funding, limiting reporting requirements to entities that receive funding from SB 8. The previous version applied transparency and reporting requirements to all federal stimulus funds and a larger number of entities.