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Wolf argues for $2,000 checks to families while Republicans call push 'disingenuous'

Wolf again calls on GOP lawmakers to pass his $2,000 opportunity check for households
Wolf again calls on GOP lawmakers to pass his $2,000 opportunity check for households 02:30

SHARPSBURG, Pa. (KDKA) — Governor Tom Wolf was in Sharpsburg on Monday once again pitching his plan to provide a $2,000 check to a quarter million Pennsylvania families.

The governor says he's not giving up on calling on Republican lawmakers to pass his Pennsylvania Opportunity Program.

"Sometimes in politics, persistence makes a difference," says Wolf.

Wolf wants to use a half billion of the state's $15 billion surplus to send a $2,000 check to individuals or households earning under $80,000.

"You want to spend it on gas, on rent, on taxes, on food, whatever. You have $2,000 to spend and it's your decision. It's your choice. We have the money. Nobody is being asked to pay any more in taxes. This is just ... send this money out. I'm not sure why anybody would be against this," Wolf told a group at Roots of Faith in Sharpsburg.

But Republican leaders, who at least through November control the state Senate and the state House, say this is just a political stunt, spending money that should be saved for a possible recession.

Democrats disagree, saying families need this help now.

"Nearly 40 percent of those living in Allegheny County and across this commonwealth who are employed are not making enough to make ends meet," says state Rep. Sara Innamorato, a Lawrenceville Democrat.

And with a multi-billion dollar budget surplus, help, they say, should be targeted to those making less, not more.

"Too often in this country when we do have good governance that allows us to have a surplus, we tend to give those surpluses off to the people at the top," says Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald.

Of course, with an election in 10 weeks for all members of the state House and half the state Senate, no surprise that the governor and Democrats will keep this issue in front of voters.

"To my Republican colleagues, I love y'all," says Pittsburgh Mayor Ed Gainey, a former House member. "But it's time that we give back. It's time that we serve the people."

While Wolf is not giving up on his $2,000 plan, it goes nowhere without legislative approval, and that depends on Republicans. A Senate Republican Caucus spokesperson, Erica Clayton Wright, had this statement: 

"The resurrection of this concept is disingenuous on the part of Gov. Wolf and says more about his political calculus and willingness to create a false sense of hope for Pennsylvanians instead of providing clarity for Pennsylvanians. This illogical idea by Gov. Wolf not only leads to higher costs on Pennsylvanians but also drives inflation."  

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