Gov. Wolf: Pennsylvanians Need the General Assembly to Act on $1.7 Billion in Federal Funding Now
February 24, 2022
Governor Tom Wolf today was joined by members of the General Assembly and community members at North Light Community Center in Philadelphia to call on Pennsylvania’s General Assembly to take immediate action in allocating the $1.7 billion in federal American Rescue Plan Act funding to Pennsylvanians.
“Our commonwealth is sitting on billions of dollars in federal COVID-19 relief money that is meant to help our citizens,” said Gov. Wolf. “It is past time to use that money for its intended purpose – to improve the lives of Pennsylvanians. Like helping Pennsylvanians afford child care and after school care, like the program here at North Light Community Center. We know the positive impact quality child care has on future generations, as well as the economic impact child care has on a guardian’s ability to remain employed. A lot of households across the commonwealth are still recovering financially from the pandemic, and this money would go a long way to helping the people who are still hurting.”
Earlier this month, Gov. Wolf proposed a $1.7 billion action plan including a diverse variety of programs that aimed to promote immediate and future success for Pennsylvanians. Today, he continues to call on the legislature to take immediate action on the proposed plan including:
The PA Opportunity Program, $500 million
Pennsylvanians are resilient, yet many workers and families are still covering pandemic-related costs, stabilizing their budgets, and rebuilding their savings.
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.
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.
Gov. Wolf was joined today by Representative Pamela DeLissio, Senator Vincent Hughes, Department of Human Services’ Acting Secretary Meg Snead, Executive Director of North Light Community Center Krista Wieder, and fellow North Light Community Center board members.
“As minority chair of the Children & Youth Committee I applaud and support the Governor’s proposal to ensure that families who were particularly hard hit over the past two years due to the pandemic have access to additional financial resources to help their families recover and stabilize,” said Representative DeLissio. “The need for high quality childcare both in terms of availability and affordability were highlighted in particular during the past two years of the pandemic.”
“The inaccessibility of high-quality, affordable child care has been a chief obstacle for families, communities and our overall economy as we struggle to recover from the pandemic,” said Senator Hughes. “Years of disinvestment in the futures of our children have been dramatically exposed over the past 24 months and we now have the opportunity to reverse that trend and invest in the next generation.”