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Harrisburg, Pa. — Governor Tom Wolf called on legislators Friday to fund the PA Opportunity Program, which would send checks of up to $2,000 to millions of Pennsylvanians.

Gov. Wolf was joined by Representative Patty Kim at Wesley Union A.M.E. Zion Church in Harrisburg to call on Pennsylvania’s Republican-led General Assembly to finally act to support Pennsylvanians by passing legislation for the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA)-funded $500 million PA Opportunity Program, which would send ​checks of up to $2,000 to ​millions of Pennsylvanians.

“I first introduced this plan four months ago,” said Gov. Wolf. “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. Under my plan, Pennsylvania households earning $80,000 or less will get up to $2,000, and they can use the money for whatever they need.

“This plan will help Pennsylvanians get back on their feet right now – but I also want to look ahead, to the long-term solutions that will help keep Pennsylvanians on the path to prosperity. That’s why I support raising the minimum wage for all Pennsylvanians.”

In February, Gov. Wolf unveiled a $1.7 billion proposal for Pennsylvania’s $2 billion in federal ARPA dollars. While Democratic leaders in the Senate and House have introduced legislation, Senate Bill 1619 and House Bill 2531, to support Gov. Wolf’s PA Opportunity Program, Pennsylvania’s Republican-led General Assembly has been slow to act on committing the federal funding or introduce a plan for the dollars.

With continued inaction by the legislature, the money will be sent back to the federal government by December 31, 2024.

In Gov. Wolf’s proposed PA Opportunity Program, $500 million in ARPA dollars would provide direct payments of up to $2,000 for Pennsylvania households with an income of $80,000 or less. The program aims to help families still recovering economically from the COVID-19 pandemic or support them with covering pandemic-related costs and managing the current, every day increasing cost of living.

“During recent months, the cost of housing, utilities, energy, transportation and even groceries have all increased,” said Rep. Kim. “Almost all essential costs have risen across the board in Pennsylvania, except for the cost of labor. In Pennsylvania, unlike all our neighboring states, the minimum wage has not budged since 2009. This scenario all but guarantees severe and crippling economic hardships in Pennsylvania for people earning the lowest income."

Rep. Kim noted Pennsylvania's working poor are struggling just to survive.

"PA needs to act," Rep. Kim said. "So I’m proud to join Governor Wolf in supporting the PA Opportunity Plan and a minimum wage increase, which not only supports a living wage in PA but also supports workers and households earning less than $80,000 a year – the people most affected by this changing economy and the lasting effects of the pandemic.”  

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This story was compiled by an NCPA staff reporter from submitted news. To see a list of our editorial staff please visit our staff directory.