Pennsylvanians shouldn’t be expecting to see $2,000 stimulus checks from the state popping up in their mailboxes anytime soon.
Earlier this year, Gov. Tom Wolf introduced a blueprint for how he would like to see $2.2 million the state still had in federal COVID stimulus funding spent. He asked the Legislature to commit $500 million to the PA Opportunity Program to cover sending $2,000 to households across the commonwealth that earn $80,000 or less.
“Right now, Pennsylvanians are going through a tough time,” the governor said in April during a visit to the Salvation Army of Reading, pointing to inflation shooting the cost of things like gas, groceries and rent through the roof. “You can see the pain in the faces of people all across the state.”
The idea received fierce pushback from Republican lawmakers.
Jason Gottesman, a spokesman for the House Republican caucus, was quoted by FOX43 last month as saying that sending out stimulus checks to residents would exacerbate ongoing problems in the economy.
“This is the same bad policy coming from another Democrat to artificially prop up the economy that’s led to the same inflation problems that we’ve seen across the country,” he said.
Gottesman suggested the state needs to focus in other directions.
“We need to make sure that we are spending in strategic areas and making smarter investments in Pennsylvania,” he said. “We need to make sure that we are saving that money to deal with these future economic uncertainties and we’re returning taxpayer investment into the commonwealth.”
The $2,000 checks were not included in the recently passed $45.2 billion state budget.
And a deal between Wolf and the Republican-led Legislature found other uses for the $2.2 million in remaining federal stimulus dollars, funding at least 20 other programs.
Those programs include a total of $640 million for conservation efforts; $375 million to help low- and middle-income homeowners and landlords fix their properties; and $140 million to fund a temporary 70% expansion of an existing state property tax relief program for people 65 or older and those with disabilities.
The Wolf administration has expressed disappointment in the stimulus checks not finding their way into the state budget.
“Recognizing that people are hurting and need help now, the governor in February introduced this proposal in February as a means to provide Pennsylvanians with immediate relief utilizing some of our remaining federal American Rescue Plan Act dollars,” Elizabeth Rementer, Wolf’s press secretary, said last week. “Unfortunately, the Republicans did not move on this concept and it was not a part of the final budget. The governor is proud of this year’s budget, but is disappointed that the Republican-led Legislature didn’t advance his plan.”
The plan to send out checks may not be completely dead, however. Rementer said Wolf will continue to push for the plan.
“He is going to keep fighting for it because, again, Pennsylvanians need help, and there is still time in this legislative session,” she said.
Rementer did not provide any details about how Wolf plans to continue his pursuit of providing stimulus checks or where the funding for the plan would come from.
Source: Berkshire mont