Stimulus checks, which the federal government distributed on three separate occasions in 2020 and 2021, are likely a thing of the past, at least in the short term. But one governor is calling for the return of stimulus checks in his state.
This week, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf, a Democrat, touted a plan for $2,000 direct payments to families in the state. The checks would be paid for with leftover state funds from the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 and would go to families whose household income is less than $80,000.
"I'm talking about $2 billion that's sitting in a checking account out in Harrisburg that if we don't use it by the end of 2024, we have to send it back to Washington. Do you want to do that? I don't," Wolf said while promoting the plan in West View, Pa., TV station KDKA reported.
Wolf also said that the payments would help Pennsylvanians deal with rising inflation. The plan, costing $1.7 billion, was first introduced back in February.
“I first introduced this plan four months ago,” said Governor Wolf. “A lot has changed since then, from inflation to price increases to 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,” Wolf said in an official statement last month on his website.
He argued if the Rescue Plan funds are not spent in time, they will be returned to the federal government at the end of 2024. Wolf also called for a minimum wage increase to $12 an hour with a “pathway” to a $15 per hour minimum rate.
“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.”
The odds look long, especially since Republicans control the state legislature and oppose the proposal.
Wolf isn’t proposing the checks for personal political advantage; the second-term governor is term-limited, and Democratic Attorney General Josh Shapiro and Republican State Sen. Doug Mastriano are vying to replace him.
First elected governor in 2014, Wolf was a relatively uncontroversial figure for much of his tenure and was re-elected with little difficulty in 2018. However, he drew the ire of many with COVID mitigation policies during the pandemic.
Stephen Silver, a technology writer for The National Interest, is a journalist, essayist and film critic, who is also a contributor to The Philadelphia Inquirer, Philly Voice, Philadelphia Weekly, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Living Life Fearless, Backstage magazine, Broad Street Review and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenSilver.