Wolf argued during a Monday event in Sharpsburg, Pennsylvania, that the “Pennsylvania Opportunity Program” will help families cope with surging inflation. The initiative would cost $500 million and draw funds from the state’s $15 billion budget surplus.
“We can actually help families get lifesaving medicine out of state funds. We can help families stay in their homes,” Wolf said. “We can help families afford to eat. Why on earth wouldn’t we do it? Especially now, again, when we have the money sitting in the bank.”
Pennsylvania Republicans, who control both chambers of the state legislature, have spurned the proposal over concerns of inducing additional inflation — a claim Wolf rejects.
“It’s just mind-boggling, the sense that giving somebody who is trying to put food on the table or pay the rent, that that is somehow inflationary, when how many trillions of dollars did we give away to the very wealthy during the Trump years in tax breaks?” he continued.
Other Democratic governors have proposed various stimulus measures as living expenses remain elevated. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, year-over-year inflation reached 8.5% in July 2022, with a slight moderation from the 9.1% reading in the previous month driven by lower energy prices — even as costs for food, new vehicles, medical care, and shelter continue to rise.
Governor Gavin Newsom (D-CA) recently signed a $308 billion state budget that includes $1.95 billion in emergency rental assistance, $1.4 billion to help citizens pay utility bills, and $9.5 billion for tax refunds of up to $1,050 per household for many Californians. As fuel prices soared in the wake of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Newsom proposed an $11 billion plan to send $400 stimulus checks to Californians for each registered vehicle.
“We’re taking immediate action to get money directly into the pockets of Californians who are facing higher gas prices as a direct result of Putin’s invasion of Ukraine,” Newsom said in a statement. “But this package is also focused on protecting people from volatile gas prices, and advancing clean transportation — providing three months of free public transportation, fast-tracking electric vehicle incentives and charging stations, and new funding for local biking and walking projects.”
After the federal government passed multiple rounds of stimulus checks in reaction to COVID and nationwide lockdowns, evidence that the payments contributed to inflation has continued to mount. Enhanced weekly unemployment benefits of $300 per person — passed under President Donald Trump and extended under President Joe Biden — lasted in many states through September 2021, while other states opted out of the program in the interest of fostering a recovery in their labor markets. Indeed, economists Harry Holzer, Glenn Hubbard, and Michael Strain said in a recent paper that states which prematurely nixed the benefits saw “the flow of unemployed workers into employment increase by around two-thirds.”
Biden has instead pinned rising inflation on corporate price gouging and “Putin’s Price Hike.” As year-over-year inflation reached its highest levels in June, the commander-in-chief falsely claimed that rising price levels are “worse everywhere but here” — though developed nations such as Germany, the United Kingdom, Canada, South Korea, and Japan had been experiencing lower inflation than the United States.