Stimulus Update: Residents of This State May Receive Another Stimulus Check -- This One for $2,000

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  • Governor Tom Wolf of Pennsylvania hopes to share more American Rescue Plan money.
  • The primary obstacle to another stimulus check appears to be the state legislature.

Keystone State residents may be in for another round of stimulus. 

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf wants state lawmakers to release the $2 billion worth of American Rescue Plan money they’ve been sitting on. Specifically, Wolf wants part of that money deposited into Pennsylvanians’ bank accounts. His proposal is referred to as the “Pennsylvania Opportunity Plan.” 

“Working families have been stretched. Their pocketbooks have been stretched to the limit. With the recent dramatic price increases, they’ve actually been stretched beyond their limits,” Wolf said. 

According to the governor’s office, the plan is to help families still recovering economically from the pandemic. In addition to covering pandemic-related expenses, the funds are intended to help households better manage the rising costs of living. 

Who would receive Pennsylvania stimulus funds?

Under Wolf’s plan, households with incomes of $80,000 or less would receive up to $2,000. Specifically, households earning $50,000 or less would receive a one-time payment of $2,000. Households with incomes between $50,000 and $80,000 would receive $1,500. 

If the legislature passes the bill, checks would come from the Pennsylvania Treasury and not be taxed as income. 

Wolf’s $1.7 billion proposal includes $225 million in support for small businesses, $325 million for the state’s healthcare system, $204 million for direct property tax relief, and earmarks $450 million to invest in the conservation, preservation, and revitalization of communities across the state. In other words, the stimulus money will go back into the local economy. 

The Governor's rationale 

Speaking at the Pocono Family YMCA on April 14, Wolf said, “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. 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.” 

As of today, Pennsylvania has more than $10.7 billion in its account and state leaders expect a $2.5 billion revenue surplus. It makes sense that Wolf and his fellow Democrats see this as a good time to help struggling families get through the remainder of the pandemic. 

Not everyone is enthusiastic 

It seems that partisanship is as much an issue in state legislatures as in the federal government. Wolf is a Democrat. Both the Pennsylvania House and Senate are controlled by Republicans. 

According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, some Republicans are slow to get on board. For example, State Treasurer Stacy Garrity leaves decisions regarding specific budget proposals to the General Assembly but has urged lawmakers to look further down the road to 2026 as it considers spending plans. That’s the year when the Independent Fiscal Office projects the state will have a $1.4 billion deficit, spending more than it generates in taxes.

Gov. Wolf has reminded legislators that states are required to use American Rescue Plan money by Dec. 21, 2024 or return the funds to the federal government. 

Is there a need? 

As of today, though, 13.6% of Pennsylvanians live in poverty, and as of March, the unemployment rate was 4.9%. And these statistics don’t address those who work hard every day, barely earning enough to keep themselves above water. 

Kristina Valdez, executive director of the community action group Along the Way, sums it up this way, “This money will help the hardworking people our agency serves keep their lights and heat on so they can get ready for work and pay their car maintenance, so it passes inspection. It will enable them to continue to show up to work at the businesses we all rely on in our community.” 

It’s clear that Pennsylvania has the funds it needs to send a round of stimulus checks. What’s less clear is whether the state legislature will get behind the proposal. 

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