SHARPSBURG, Pa. — Gov. Tom Wolf was joined by state and local Democrats on Monday to continue with his push to send checks to thousands of Pennsylvanians.
The “PA Opportunity Program” would send direct payments of up to $2,000 to households earning $80,000 or less.
“Many Pennsylvanians have, and even more so now, live paycheck to paycheck,” Wolf said during the news conference, located within the Roots of Faith building in Sharpsburg.
“We can help families stay in their homes, we can help families afford to eat, why wouldn’t we do it?” Wolf said. “Especially when we have the money to do it.”
Wolf originally proposed using funds from the American Rescue Plan Act to pay for the $500 million expense, but those funds were distributed in other ways, he said Monday.
The new legislation would utilize money from the general fund to send the payments. It’s estimated that 250,000 Pennsylvanians would be eligible. During the news conference, Wolf stated that there is currently $5 billion in the rainy-day fund.
Republicans, however, have argued for fiscal prudence.
“Given the recession we are currently in, saving for our future is critically important so that we can not only thrive during the economic downturn, but also not be forced to make the difficult decision in the future between cutting government services or increasing taxes,” said Jason Gottesman, press secretary to the House majority leader.
Channel 11 also received a statement from Senate Republican spokesperson Erica Clayton Wright, reading in part, “This illogical idea by Gov. Wolf not only leads to higher costs on Pennsylvanians but also drives inflation.”
Republicans have argued that the federal stimulus checks distributed during the pandemic have contributed to the inflation we’re seeing now.
Wolf rejected that on Monday, stating, “that’s a dodge, that’s just not true.”
The GOP spokespeople tell Channel 11 that the latest budget includes measures to help Pennsylvania’s economy, from the corporate net income tax cut to a property tax and rent rebate, and a program helping to offset the costs of childcare.
Democrats, however, argue it isn’t enough to help struggling Pennsylvanians.
“Investing directly in working families in our communities is what makes a strong, sustainable and equitable economy,” said state Rep. Sara Innamorato.
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