On Tuesday, Commonwealth Legislators, stakeholders, and community members met with the Governor to discuss the reintroduction of the PA Opportunity Program, which would send $2,000 checks directly to Pennsylvanians.
In February, a $1.7 billion proposal was introduced for Pennsylvania’s $2 billion in federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) dollars, which allocated $500 million towards the PA Opportunity Program. According to a press release from February, 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.
“This year’s budget made major investments in working families across the commonwealth, putting Pennsylvania on a pack to a brighter future, but we still have the funds to make this investment in the people of Pennsylvania right now,” said Gov Wolf. “People need help now, and we can afford to help them. Let’s put this cashback in the pockets of Pennsylvanians, to help cover the higher costs of gas, groceries, and everything else.”
State Representative David Delloso (D-Delaware) and state Senator Tina Tartaglione (D-Philadelphia) has submitted co-sponsorship memos in the House and Senate, respectively, signaling their intent to reintroduce legislation to fund the PA Opportunity Program using the commonwealth’s general funds.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has taken a major toll on Pennsylvanians. It is time we step up to help Pennsylvanians now,” said Rep. Delloso. “That is why I am introducing updated legislation to create the PA Opportunity Program, which would make direct payments of up to $2,000 to Pennsylvania households. This program, which is expected to help at least 250,000 households across Pennsylvania, is needed now more than ever to help workers and families recover economically from the pandemic and assist them in affording childcare, education and training, and basic household expenses.”
The PA Opportunity Program is intended to help families still recovering economically from the COVID-19 pandemic and manage the current, everyday increasing cost of living. If passed, Pennsylvania homeowners or renters with an income of up to $80,000 would receive direct payments of up to $2,000.
“In April, Governor Wolf and I announced a plan to put up to $2,000 back into the pockets of Pennsylvanians struggling with the burden of the record inflation America is currently experiencing,” said Senator Tartaglione. “The PA Opportunity Program, along with hundreds of other pieces of democrat-sponsored legislation like minimum wage reform, would have an immediate and lasting impact on Pennsylvania’s most vulnerable citizens. To ensure a truly equitable recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, we must ensure we are lifting from the bottom, not raising up the top. The majority party in the legislature has shown they are willing to pass pro-business legislation like lowering the Corporate Net Income Tax, now with just 10 scheduled session days remaining this year for the PA Senate, we still have the opportunity to pass meaningful legislation that will dramatically help our constituents like raising the minimum wage and passing the PA Opportunity Program.”
Senators Tim Kearney and Anthony Williams were also in attendance, supporting the legislation. “The PA Opportunity Program will make our economic recovery from the pandemic more equitable, ensuring we don’t leave Pennsylvanians behind,” said Senator Kearney. “The slow growth from the Great Recession taught us we can’t have top-down approaches – we need a bottom-up recovery that gives everyone a piece of the pie.”
“This is money that can have a real impact on families,” said Senator Williams. “We know prices are high across the board. Gas, food, and utilities all cost more, and those who are struggling most are working families who are just trying to meet the everyday needs of their children and households. The PA Opportunity Program will put money directly into the pockets of people who have been hit hardest by the economic effects of COVID-19 and inflation, giving them some reprieve and support.”