READING, Pa. (WKBN) – Governor Wolf and Representative Patty Kim Wesley spoke at Union A.M.E. Zion Church in Harrisburg Friday to call on Pennsylvania’s Republican-led General Assembly to pass legislation for the PA Opportunity Program, which would send ​checks of up to $2,000 to ​millions of Pennsylvanians.

This program is part of the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) in Pennsylvania.

In Gov. Wolf’s PA Opportunity Program, $500 million in ARPA dollars would provide direct payments of up to $2,000 to families that make $80,000 or less.

“I first introduced this plan four months ago. A lot has changed since then, from inflation to price increases to a war in Ukraine. Pennsylvanians need our support even more today than they did in February. Under my plan, Pennsylvania households earning $80,000 or less will get up to $2,000, and they can use the money for whatever they need,” said Gov. Wolf.

This program is part of a $1.7 billion proposal for Pennsylvania’s $2 billion in ARPA. Democratic Senate and House leaders have introduced legislation to support Gov. Wolf’s initiative, but the Republican-led General assembly is accused of being slow in action.

“This plan will help Pennsylvanians get back on their feet right now – but I also want to look ahead, to the long-term solutions that will help keep Pennsylvanians on the path to prosperity. That’s why I support raising the minimum wage for all Pennsylvanians,” Gov. Wolf continued.

At the meeting, Gov. Wolf and Rep. Kim also renewed calls for the General Assembly to raise the minimum wage to $12 per hour with a pathway to $15 per hour by 2028. Pennsylvania’s current minimum wage sits at $7.25.

“During recent months, the cost of housing, utilities, energy, transportation and even groceries have all increased. Almost all essential costs have risen across the board in Pennsylvania, except for the cost of labor. In Pennsylvania, unlike all our neighboring states, the minimum wage has not budged since 2009,” said Rep. Kim.

According to Keystone Research Center, if the minimum wage had kept pace with productivity rate since the 1960s, the minimum wage would be $24 per hour.

Thirty states, including Ohio, have a higher minimum wage than Pennsylvania.

“This reality of unchanging wages and rising living costs has stretched the resources of working Pennsylvanians and their families to the limit, and with the recent dramatic price increases, beyond it. By sending ARPA dollars to Pennsylvanians and raising wages, we can help Pennsylvanians recovering from the pandemic get back on their feet and take the pressure of higher prices off of our commonwealth’s families,” said Gov. Wolf.