At Least One Republican is Willing to Listen to Wolf’s Plan to Help Pa. Families

State Sen. Pat Browne, R-Allentown (Courtesy PA Senate)

By Patrick Berkery

March 9, 2022

A high-ranking state senator said Gov. Wolf’s plan to issue checks of up to $2,000 to some Pennsylvania families “could be possible.”

Gov. Tom Wolf last month announced plans for devoting some of Pennsylvania’s unused pandemic relief money to families dealing with the lingering economic impacts of COVID-19.

The plan, part of his final state budget proposal, includes issuing checks of up to $2,000 to qualifying households to help families pay for expenses like child care, transportation, utilities, and broadband, along with training and education to help workers enhance their job skills and improve earning potential. Households earning up to $80,000 a year would be eligible, including senior citizens.

​​“We need to get this money out the door so that people who are hurting right now get the relief right now they need,” Wolf said last week at an event in Lancaster.

Republican lawmakers, who make up the majority of the state Senate and state House, did not initially respond favorably to Wolf’s proposal. But last week, a high-ranking GOP state senator said that funding part of Wolf’s plan for spending the state’s unused pandemic relief money “could be possible.”

The Allentown Morning Call reports that Sen. Pat Browne (Allentown), chairperson of the Appropriations Committee, indicated there was financial room for discussing Wolf’s proposal, while cautioning “we may not be able to accommodate all the things he is proposing.” 

Saying part of Wolf’s proposal to help struggling families “could be possible” hardly qualifies as a vote of confidence. But given Republican lawmakers’ seeming determination to hold onto the more than $2 billion in federal pandemic relief funds they control as long as possible, a willingness to listen constitutes progress.

Wolf’s $43.7 billion budget also includes money for small businesses, property tax relief, health care systems, green initiatives, and infrastructure.

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