Just because the federal government can’t get its act together on something, that doesn’t mean individual states can’t try and pursue the same thing on their own. Just look at what’s happening right now around the country with stimulus checks, with more than one state right now proposing new injections of free money into their citizens’ bank accounts or mailboxes via check.
Political will collapsed in the US Senate to approve another round of the monthly child tax credit checks in December. Since then, states have stepped up to propose everything from stimulus payments to basic income guarantees. To even gas rebates, because of the high prices at the pump.
One of the latest examples along these same lines? Pennsylvania, where Gov. Tom Wolf has proposed direct payments of up to $2,000 for state residents with an income of $80,000 or less.
$2,000 in free money for Pennsylvanians
“The cost of everything from gas to groceries is rising, and for Pennsylvanians living paycheck to paycheck that can mean painful decisions,” Gov. Wolf said, according to a news release from his office. “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 to be returned to the federal government if they don’t pass a plan.”
This has come about because the state is apparently sitting on more than $2 billion in federal American Rescue Plan dollars. Money, more specifically, that remains uncommitted for now. Gov. Wolf’s proposal taps $500 million of that funding to send out the free money to state residents.
It’s part of an overall $1.7 billion proposal from the governor that includes $225 million in support for small businesses. Plus $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.
Importantly: If Pennsylvania doesn’t make a decision on spending the Rescue Plan money by December 31, 2024? The funds will return to the federal government.
Stimulus check update
This comes as other states around the US are weighing a similar stimulus-related calculus. In California, gas prices are especially soaring right now. So, no surprise, it’s considering handing out free money in the form of gas rebates for residents.
More than a handful of states are also experimenting with basic income experiments. Which are stimulus checks of a different sort, in that it’s basically free money given over an extended period of time.
In Georgia, for example, officials decided to provide 650 women an average of $850/month over two years. It’s reportedly “the largest guaranteed income project in the South to date.”
In Massachusetts, meanwhile, a $500 stimulus has been going out in recent days as part of the state’s Essential Employee Premium Pay program. For that program, the state legislature set aside $460 million for the payments. With $500 payments already going out to 500,000 people in the first round.