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Tuesday, December 6, 2022

States Continue To Send Out Stimulus Check To Residents: Pennsylvania Inflation Relief Amount Increases

The discontinuance of the federal stimulus check has meant acute hardship for millions of low and medium-income citizens. It would not have mattered much if the economy had limped back to normal even as the pandemic was brought under control. And that is the way things were moving as the economy experienced a brief turnaround in the last two quarters of 2021.

The successive stimulus checks helped prop the economy at its most critical juncture. The American Rescue Plan Act signed by President Biden was not limited to stimulus checks. It gave equal weightage to saving the economy by supporting businesses, and other organizations like educational and health institutions, spending on local and tribal bodies, and giving generous aid to states in the fight against the pandemic and to prop up the local economy.

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The money given to businesses staved off imminent closure as the economy shut down immediately after the pandemic. it allowed businesses to remain open despite a total shutdown. Workers received wages even if the number of working hours had to be curtailed.

The support to states has begun to bear results even as the federal funds died out at the end of 2021. The inflation rate began creeping up from the end of the second quarter of 2021. By the beginning of 2022, it had reached alarming figures and by the second quarter, it recorded a 4 decade high. The June inflation rate year-on-year was 9.1%, the highest since November 1981.

With little federal support, the states have fallen back to the ARPA funds to plan for inflation relief for their residents. They have also been helped by a booming economy in the last two quarters of 2021. Notably, the economic boom was also a result of the funds pumped in by the federal administration under ASPA. The money sent directly into the hands of citizens helped create a brief boom in the economy immediately after the brief recession, which was the shortest on record after World War II.

Over 20 States Have Gone For Inflation Relief Stimulus Check

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Many states have gone for inflation relief stimulus checks for their residents. These states have sent some type of relief to rein in the ever-increasing prices of household goods and gasoline. Inflation has also affected the rate of utilities and home rents.

People have been left with a decrease in wages when compared to the pre-pandemic levels. While there has been a marked increase in wages compared to the past two years, it has shown a negative increase when adjusted for inflation.

The inflation stimulus check amounts have varied widely across states but include one-off payments, tax credits, tax refunds, suspension of sales tax and gas tax, and even preloaded gas and transportation debit cards.

The latest to join the list of states announcing stimulus checks are California and Republican-ruled Florida, a surprising entrant to the list.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has vehemently opposed any form of support right from the start and the 2024 presidential hopeful has constantly blamed the ARPA for the current high inflation rate.

DeSantis even relied on ARPA funds to send a $450 stimulus check to residents. The proposed payments have largely been included in state budget proposals. This means that residents of several states might have to wait a few months for relief measures.

Several States Have Begun Sending Out Stimulus Checks

But several states like Maine, New Mexico, and Maine have already passed legislation and the stimulus checks have started going out to residents.

Qualifying residents of California will receive stimulus checks that could add up to $1,050 as announced by Governor Gavin Newsom last month. State income tax filers will receive relief stimulus checks depending on their filing status and income. Individuals and families with dependents will receive one single additional payment but will not get any payment for a second dependent.

An individual filer earning $75,000 or less will get $350 and another $350 for at least one dependent. Individual filers earning between above $75,000 and below $125,000 will receive a $250 stimulus check. 

Filers earning between $125,000 and $250,000 will receive a $200 payment. All of the above categories of filers will receive the same amount for at least one other dependent. 

For joint filers, both the income and slab get doubled. And joint filers will get $700 if they make up to $150,000 and another $350 for one dependent. Families under this category will receive the maximum stimulus check of $1,050.

Joint filers earning between $150,000 and $250,000 will get $500 plus another $250 for one dependent. While those earning between $250,000 and $500,000 will get $400 plus $200 for at least one dependent.

Pennsylvania could be in for another stimulus check. Governor Tom Wolf and his administration have reintroduced the proposed Opportunity Plan that would rely on the American Rescue Plan Act to send direct stimulus checks to residents of Pennsylvania.

This $1.7 billion plan would assist families with job training, child care, transportation, broadband facilities, and after-school programs.

The $2,000 direct payments would go to households in the state earning $80,000 or less.

Governor Wolf had proposed the Opportunity Program back in February 2022. But Republicans opposed the proposal in the General Assembly and refused to support funding in the 2022 budget. But he has vowed to continue fighting till residents of Pennsylvania get the full support they deserve.

Gov. wolf’s $1.7 billion proposal from earlier this year also includes $225M in support of small businesses, $204M as direct relief from property tax, $325M for the healthcare system, and another $450M for the preservation, conservation, and revitalization of the state communities.

Governor Wolf said that while there have been major investments in support of working families that have put communities on track for a brighter future, more funds are needed to be invested in the residents of the state given the drastic situation they are in. he said that the state can afford to support them, especially as they have the funds in hand.

He appealed to the opposition Republicans to help him put that cash back into the hands of the state residents and help them cover the high costs of food, gasoline, groceries, utilities, and home rents.

Any APRA money that remains unused or uncommitted by December 31, 2024, will have to be returned to the federal administration.

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