Senator Hughes

Harrisburg, PA – February 2, 2022 – Governor Tom Wolf announced today his $1.7 billion plan to help Pennsylvania fully recover from the pandemic and pave the way for a successful future with support for families and workers, small businesses, the healthcare system, and statewide community revitalization through the American Rescue Plan​ Act (ARPA).

“As Pennsylvania endured the pandemic, we strategically invested to support small businesses, frontline workers, agriculture, healthcare, first responders, and more. This ensured that Pennsylvania survived,” said Wolf. “Now it’s time for Pennsylvanians to thrive, and investing $1.7 billion in a bright future for this commonwealth will give Pennsylvanians a sense of security and a clear path forward.

My plan will not only help Pennsylvanians recover and rebuild financial security for themselves and their families, but it will improve the quality of life for Pennsylvanians for generations to come,” said Wolf. “I urge the legislature to act now. Pennsylvanians can’t afford to wait.”

Gov. Wolf has prioritized fiscal responsibility from the very beginning of his administration. As ​he turned around Pennsylvania’s finances and worked to build a budget surplus, he’s simultaneously invested in Pennsylvanians through education, health care, business support, workforce development, and more. These historic investments, combined with relief distributed during the pandemic, ensured Pennsylvania survive the past two years. However, more support is critical to fully recover and ensure every Pennsylvanian the opportunity to succeed.

“While Pennsylvanians are still bruised and trying to recover from the pandemic, we cannot sit on billions of dollars in federal aid that could heal Pennsylvania,” added Wolf. “It’s wrong to hold this money back from helping people​. It’s past time we take action.”

Gov. Wolf’s $1.7 billion action plan includes a diverse variety of programs that aim to promote immediate and future success. Today, he called on the legislature to take immediate action on the proposed plan:

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 with relief 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 by Senate and House Democratic leaders for today’s event.

“Everyone here has seen the balance sheets. The ARPA dollars are waiting to be spent and they were designed to be spent like this. I’m fed up with hearing that we need to save them for a ‘rainy day,’” said Senate Democratic leader, Senator Jay Costa, D-Pittsburgh. “Visit any hospital, talk to a small business owner, hear from a working mother who can’t find child care and now can’t work. They’ll all tell you that it’s raining now. It’s time to spend the money we have. Thank you Gov. Wolf for proposing this plan, you have my support.”

“Our state’s economy can’t fully recover until all Pennsylvanians can share in its recovery,” House Democratic leader, State Rep. Joanna McClinton, D-Phila/Delaware said. “These targeted investments, drawn on a portion of the commonwealth’s American Rescue Plan dollars, will help thousands of Pennsylvania families and small businesses rebound from the repeated challenges caused by COVID-19.”

“We know from experience that if you make the right investments you get the right results. We are aware of those who want to curl up and pretend the pandemic is over or it never happened at all,” said Senate Democratic Appropriations Chairman Vincent Hughes, D-Phila/Montgomery. “The reality is quite different.  There is still work to be done and we’re standing with Governor Wolf to do it.”

“Pennsylvanians are still hurting from the financial impacts of the pandemic, and we have an opportunity to invest in a recovery that leverages our one-time rescue dollars as a down payment to a stronger economy and a better future,” said House Democratic Appropriations Chairman Matthew Bradford, D-Montgomery. “House Democrats believe we should use these federal funds to support families, seniors, frontline workers, and businesses while also investing in the long-term health of Pennsylvanians.”

The funds for Gov. Wolf’s action plan for Pennsylvania would come from the American Rescue Plan Act, which is federal dollars and would not pull from any general fund appropriations.