On Thursday, Governor Tom Wolf issued a statement urging state lawmakers to spend the $2 billion in American Rescue Plan funds sent to Pennsylvania.
Wolf wants some of that money to go directly back into Pennsylvania households in a $2,000 check, as political editor Jon Delano explains.
It’s a state-level version of the stimulus checks that former President Donald Trump and Vice President Joe Biden pushed during the pandemic’s peak. Governor Wolf believes the state should do the same with funds left over from the pandemic relief effort in Harrisburg.
“Working families have been put under a lot of strain.” Their wallets have been strained to the breaking point. “They’ve been strained to their limits by the recent substantial price rises,” Wolf said during a press conference in Stroudsburg on Thursday.
According to the governor’s plan, households with incomes of $80,000 or less would get a check from the Pennsylvania Treasury of up to $2,000.
“Let’s relieve the load on Pennsylvanians working,” Wolf added. “Right now, we want to put $2,000 in Pennsylvanians’ pockets.”
The governor urged Republican lawmakers in the state House and Senate to do the right thing, stating that he would not touch rainy-day money or the current budget. It’s simply repurposing leftover government pandemic funds.
“If we don’t utilize it, we have to give it back to Washington, and now is the moment to use it,” Wolf added.
“Right now, you’re in desperate need of cash.” “The Commonwealth does not,” Wolf stated emphatically. “Working families across Pennsylvania have been placed in a difficult situation. The good news is that we can assist you right now.”
All households earning $50,000 or less would receive a one-time $2,000 under the Pennsylvania Opportunity Plan. Families with earnings between $50,000 and $80,000 would receive a $1,500 payout.
According to Pennsylvania Senator Tina Tartaglione, a Philadelphia Democrat, and the bill’s sponsor, the money might be used for almost anything.
“Childcare and after-school programs, education and workforce training, rental or mortgage help, home maintenance, transportation and gas, broadband and utilities, and medical bill copays,” says Tartaglione.
She claims that the funds will also benefit local companies.
“That money is immediately reinvested in the local economy.” “That money will go immediately into the economy and will stimulate some of the enterprises to be able to come back,” Tartaglione says.
The state legislature, however, is controlled by Republicans rather than Democrats. Senate Majority Leader Kim Ward, a Hempfield Republican, told KDKA that this is the first time she’s heard of the proposal and wants to look into it further. According to insiders, several Republicans are concerned that, while state revenues are currently substantial, they may not be so strong in the future.
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Checks would come directly from the Pennsylvania Treasury and would not be taxed as income if the bill is passed.
If you have strong feelings about this, Tartaglione advises contacting your state legislator and senator.