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Wolf, Community Leaders Seek $2,000 Payments for Pennsylvanians

by Emily Scott, Keystone State News Connection

May 18, 2022

Gov. Tom Wolf, lawmakers and community leaders are calling on the General Assembly to pass legislation that would send checks of up to $2,000 to millions of Pennsylvanians.

Earlier this year, Wolf unveiled a $1.7 billion proposal aimed at helping communities recover from the pandemic through American Rescue Plan dollars.

Part of that plan includes the $500 million Pennsylvania Opportunity Program, which would provide direct payments for households with an income of $80,000 or less.

Wolf said with inflation climbing, more Pennsylvanians are experiencing financial insecurity.

“The problem is that far too many people live paycheck to paycheck,” said Wolf. “And even now, with a small increase in living expenses – even if that’s all people were facing with the inflation, that can have devastating consequences. Pennsylvanians deserve better and there are ways we can help.”

Pennsylvania has $2.2 billion unused American Rescue Plan dollars that must be used by the end of 2024.

Democratic leaders in the state Senate and House have introduced legislation to support the Opportunity Program. Both were referred to the respective chamber’s Finance Committee last month.

Wolf and legislative leaders also are continuing their calls to increase the state minimum wage, which is currently $7.25 per hour and has not had an increase since 2009.

State Rep. Patty Kim – D-Dauphin – has introduced a bill that would raise the minimum wage to $12 per hour by July and would reach $15 by 2028.

“If we learned anything from this pandemic, we need to go back to the basics,” said Kim. “We need safe, affordable housing, we need good schools, we need a living wage, we need to value our workers and we need each other.”

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Living Wage calculator shows that today, a single adult in Pennsylvania needs to earn nearly $17 per hour to support themselves – while a single adult with one child needs nearly $33 per hour to support their family.

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