Is Pennsylvania getting a new $2,000 stimulus check?
Gov. Tom Wolf is pushing for direct payments of up to $2,000 for Pennsylvania households using federal stimulus funds that if not used will be lost.
Governor Tom Wolf proposed “$1.7 billion plan to help Pennsylvania fully recover from the pandemic and pave the way for a successful future” in February. Part of his proposal included $500 million for the PA Opportunity Program which would send households in the Keystone State with an income of $80,000 or less a direct payment for up to $2,000.
Legislation has been introduced in both the Senate and House by Democratic lawmakers but the “Republican-led General Assembly has been slow to act,” on his plan or provide one of their own to use federal stimulus funding from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). The state is sitting on $2 billion in federal ARPA funds that must be used by 31 December 2024 or it gets sent back.
“Pennsylvanians need our support even more today”
Earlier this month Gov. Wolf was joined by Representative Patty Kim in Harrisburg to call on GOP state lawmakers to pass the PA Opportunity Program to help Pennsylvanians burdened by rising prices. “A lot has changed since then, from inflation to price increases to a war in Ukraine. Pennsylvanians need our support even more today than they did in February,” Gov. Wolf said.
The governor has touted his plan as a way to help workers and families still reeling from financial hardship caused by the pandemic. The direct payments would boost household income for many who are “still covering pandemic-related costs, stabilizing their budgets, and rebuilding their savings.”
The funds would give much-needed relief to cover expensive childcare and household expenses. Additionally, provide Pennsylvanians opportunities to complete educational and training courses to “strengthen their skills and increase income—all leading to a better quality of life.”
Gov. Wolf has previously said that residents “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.”
Gov. Wolf wants to raise the minimum wage
“The price increases we’re seeing right now are especially painful because wages haven’t kept up with the rising cost of living for many years,” said Gov. Wolf. In addition to the $2,000 direct payments, he is proposing a minimum wage hike to $12 per hour by 1 July 2022. That would also come with a roadmap to $15 per hour by 2028.
“This reality of unchanging wages and rising living costs has stretched the resources of working Pennsylvanians and their families to the limit, and with the recent dramatic price increases, beyond it,” Gov. Wolf added. Pennsylvania is one of twenty states, and the only one among all of its neighbors, that has still not raised its minimum wage above the federal $7.25 an hour.
The federal rate has not changed since 2009 meaning families are losing purchasing power especially with the rampant post-pandemic inflation. The Keystone Research Center calculates that if it had kept in line with productivity growth since the late 1960s, the minimum wage would now be over $24 per hour today.
According to the MIT Living Wage calculator, in order to support themselves, a single adult in Pennsylvania needs to earn $16.93 per hour. Just to support their family, that amount jumps to $32.83 per hour for a single parent with one child.