PHILADELPHIA, Pa. (WHTM) – Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf is pushing his proposed PA Opportunity Plan that would use American Rescue Plan dollars to send direct payments to Pennsylvania residents.
The $1.7 billion PA Opportunity Plan would assist families with child care, job training, broadband, transportation and afterschool programs.
The proposal would use $500 million in rescue plan funds to send $2,000 direct payments to Pennsylvania households with an income of $80,000 or less.
“The cost of everything from gas to groceries is rising, and for Pennsylvanians living paycheck to paycheck that can mean painful decisions,” said Gov. Wolf on Thursday. “Pennsylvanians deserve to be supported and the opportunity to thrive. Yet my Republican colleagues are sitting on more than $2 billion of support that will need returned to the federal government if they don’t pass a plan.”
Gov. Wolf’s $1.7 billion proposal also includes $225 million in support for small businesses, $204 million for direct property tax relief, $325 million for Pennsylvania’s healthcare system, and $450 million to invest in conservation, preservation, and revitalization of Pennsylvania communities.
The Governor’s Office released an outline of each of the five proposed programs:
- The PA Opportunity Program, $500 million
“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—all leading to a better quality of life.”
- Small Business Support, $225 million
“The COVID Relief Statewide Small Business Assistance Program would provide grants ranging from $5,000 to $50,000 to small businesses that have been economically impacted by the pandemic. Among other things, businesses can use these grants to cover operating expenses and access technical assistance, including training and guidance to stabilize and relaunch their businesses. The program would prioritize women- and minority-owned businesses and rural communities. Gov. Wolf proposes to recapitalize this program at $225 million to help approximately 11,000 additional businesses.”
- Increased Property Relief for Low-Income Renters & Homeowners, $204 million
To provide direct property tax relief to Pennsylvanians, Gov. Wolf wants to invest an additional $204 million into the existing Property Tax Rent Rebate program for a one-time bonus rebate to current program users. This investment would double existing rebates. An estimated 466,000 Pennsylvanians would receive an additional average rebate of $475.
- Support for Pennsylvania’s Healthcare System, $325 million
“This investment would recognize healthcare workers for their heroic dedication and hard work throughout the pandemic and give healthcare providers resources to recruit and retain a skilled workforce:
– $250 million for long-term care recruitment and retention incentives and workforce development initiatives to grow the critical healthcare workforce;
– $40 million for the behavioral health workforce to expand county mental health programs; and
– $35 million to expand the student loan forgiveness program at PHEAA to include additional critical healthcare workers.”
- “Growing Greener” Investing in Conservation, Recreation & Preservation, $450 million
“Pennsylvania must continue to invest in vital conservation, recreation, preservation, and community revitalization projects and address the threat of climate change. Gov. Wolf’s plan proposes new funding for the Growing Greener conservation and recreation program as well as for agriculture conservation programs, such as the Agricultural Conservation Assistance Program and the existing Agriculture Conservation Excellence Grant Program.
After experiencing record-breaking rainfall and flooding events this past year, this program would make Pennsylvania more resilient in the face of more extreme and frequent weather events caused by climate change. It would support our economy, enhance our communities, and improve quality of life for all Pennsylvanians. “
Any American Rescue Plan money unused by December 31, 2024, will need to be returned to the federal government.