Pennsylvania governor Tom Wolf, in conjunction with fellow state legislators, has plans to make direct payments to residents who make below $80,000 a year.
Using funds from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), the $500 million PA Opportunity Program will distribute one-time payments of $2,000 to each eligible resident.
“This money could be used to cover necessary expenses for essential items and services like housing, transportation, food, utilities, broadband and healthcare — things each of us need to be able to maintain our own individual well-being and contribute to our communities,” said Meg Snead, Acting Secretary of the Department of Human Services. She adds, “these $2,000 checks would make a great impact as prices around us soar.”
On June 16th, Snead joined Representative Dan Williams at Coatesville City Hall to call on the support of the Republican-led General Assembly, hoping they would help pass the PA Opportunity Program. In spite of their efforts, Republican support has been sluggish, and currently none of the Harrisburg Republicans have voiced their commitment to this program.
So far, Gov. Wolf has approved the allocation of $1.7 billion out of the $2 billion awarded to Pennsylvania by the ARPA. Senate Bill 1204 and House Bill 2531 have been introduced in their respective state legislatures, both of which will support the PA Opportunity Program.
The clock is ticking to lock in these funds, however, as the money provided by the ARPA will expire and return to the federal government by December 31st, 2024.
“While we still need to address the corporate greed and price gouging occurring, we’re seeing far too much of our friends and neighbors need assistance right now,” says Rep. Williams. “With a record state surplus this year and American Relief Plan funds that haven’t been used, let’s not delay and put this money to work for everyday Pennsylvanians.”
Also joining Snead and Williams was Senator Carolyn Comitta, who noted that “many Pennsylvania families are still recovering from the economic fallout of the pandemic and rising consumer costs” and advocated for the relief that the PA Opportunity Program will bring to “families struggling to pay for necessities like utilities, groceries, childcare, or gas.”
“Pennsylvanians shouldn’t have to wait any longer,” said Acting Secretary Snead. “Let’s get this money into the hands of our neighbors who need it the most.”