Another stimulus check? Gov. Wolf pushes plan that would send $2,000 to some Pennsylvanians

HARRISBURG, Pa. — Gov. Tom Wolf is calling on the General Assembly to pass legislation for the American Rescue Plan Act-funded $500 million PA Opportunity Program, which would include $2,000 checks sent to Pennsylvanians.

“Pennsylvanians should not have to choose between paying for utilities or groceries, childcare or gas. We have the opportunity and the means to ensure they’re not struggling, to ensure their success,” said Gov. Wolf. “I’m asking the General Assembly to unite across aisles on this for the sake of every Pennsylvanian — for when they succeed, our commonwealth succeeds. Let’s get this money out of our coffers and into the pockets of Pennsylvanians.”

The state is sitting on more than $2 billion in federal ARPA dollars that will be sent back to the federal government by Dec. 31, 2024 if it is not used, according to Wolf’s office.

Last week, Wolf’s office said that Democratic leaders in the Senate and House had committed to introducing bills to support the program.

Under the program, Pennsylvania households with an income of $80,000 or less would receive direct payments of up to $2,000.

Wolf’s $1.7 billion proposal also includes $225 million in support for small businesses, $204 million for direct property tax relief, $325 million for Pennsylvania’s healthcare system, and $450 million to invest in conservation, preservation, and revitalization of Pennsylvania communities.

Here is a breakdown from Wolf’s office:

The PA Opportunity Program, $500 million

Pennsylvanians are resilient, yet many workers and families are still covering pandemic-related costs, stabilizing their budgets, and rebuilding their savings.

The PA Opportunity Program would provide much-needed relief to workers and families from the high cost of childcare and household expenses and opportunities to complete a degree, credential, or license that will strengthen their skills and increase income — all leading to a better quality of life.

Small business support, $225 million

The COVID Relief Statewide Small Business Assistance Program would provide grants ranging from $5,000 to $50,000 to small businesses that have been economically impacted by the pandemic. Among other things, businesses can use these grants to cover operating expenses and access technical assistance, including training and guidance to stabilize and relaunch their businesses. The program would prioritize women- and minority-owned businesses and rural communities. Gov. Wolf proposes to recapitalize this program at $225 million to help approximately 11,000 additional businesses.

Increased property relief for low-income renters and homeowners, $204 million

To provide direct property tax relief to Pennsylvanians, Gov. Wolf wants to invest an additional $204 million into the existing Property Tax Rent Rebate program for a one-time bonus rebate to current program users. This investment would double existing rebates. An estimated 466,000 Pennsylvanians would receive an additional average rebate of $475.

Support for Pennsylvania’s health care system, $325 million

This investment would recognize health care workers for their heroic dedication and hard work throughout the pandemic and give health care providers resources to recruit and retain a skilled workforce:

$250 million for long-term care recruitment and retention incentives and workforce development initiatives to grow the critical health care workforce;

$40 million for the behavioral health workforce to expand county mental health programs; and

$35 million to expand the student loan forgiveness program at PHEAA to include additional critical health care workers.

Investing in conservation, recreation and preservation, $450 million

Pennsylvania will continue to invest in vital conservation, recreation, preservation, and community revitalization projects and address the threat of climate change. Gov. Wolf’s plan proposes new funding for the Growing Greener conservation and recreation program, as well as for agriculture conservation programs, such as the Agricultural Conservation Assistance Program and the existing Agriculture Conservation Excellence Grant Program.

After experiencing record-breaking rainfall and flooding events this past year, this program would make Pennsylvania more resilient in the face of more extreme and frequent weather events caused by climate change. It would support the economy, enhance communities, and improve quality of life for all Pennsylvanians.

Click here to read more on Wolf’s proposal.