Jeff Fuentes Gleghorn
Governor Wolf is asking the state legislature to pass the Pennsylvania Opportunity Program, which would send $2,000 checks to Pennsylvanians. The program would be funded by the federal government through the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). Pennsylvania currently has $2 billion from ARPA it has not used, funding that Governor Wolf wants to use this year. The money will have to be returned to the federal government if it is not used by December of 2024. Governor Wolf’s proposed Pennsylvania Opportunity Program would send $2,000 to households making less than $80,000 a year. Around 63 percent of Lehigh County and 58 percent of Northampton County residents would qualify for this stimulus.
“The cost of everything from gas to groceries is rising, and for Pennsylvanians living paycheck to paycheck that can mean painful decisions,” Gov. Wolf emphasized.
Overall, the United States had its highest annual rate of inflation in 40 years this year, with general costs increasing by 8.5 percent. The biggest increases were in energy costs, which went up 32 percent in a single year, driven in large part by gasoline prices, up 48 percent over this time last year. This is not just an American problem – countries around the world are struggling with inflation after the pandemic. Experts say that factories closed by COVID-19 are not reopening as quickly as demand is rising, and supply chain problems are a major cause of cost increases worldwide. The Russian invasion of Ukraine also caused oil prices to spike, which is responsible for a large increase in energy costs.
In a press statement, Governor Wolf had this to say to his Republican colleagues: “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.”