Pa. to get billions in federal relief, but do states “need” that money? One U.S. Senator says no

This Week in Pennsylvania

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — Cash will soon be on the way to states as part of the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 rescue plan. While every state could probably use the money, do the states really need the money? One of Pennsylvania’s U.S. Senators told abc27 News, “no way.”

One pandemic, two very different takes on how much it has sickened the Pa. economy.

Democratic State Senator Vincent Hughes (D-Montgomery, Philadelphia), who serves as the Appropriations Chairman, says the state is a wreck.

“Everything in Pennsylvania has been devastated,” Hughes said.

It’s safe to say U.S. Senator Pat Toomey (R-Pennsylvania) disagrees.

“We’re in 2021 now and revenue has come roaring back. So there’s no fiscal crisis, there’s just a desire to get a whole lot of free money to spend on who knows what,” Toomey said.

Toomey is critical of the $350 billion for state and local governments, which he says, nationwide, took in $20 billion more in 2020 than in 2019.

Specifically, the Independent Fiscal Office Projections are as follows: The state will get $7.3 billion in and local municipalities will get $5.7 billion.

And this fiscal year, the state’s revenues are up 14%. He calls the aid an unnecessary gift from President Biden.

“To bail out badly run blue states,” Toomey said.

Hughes questioned Toomey’s decision regarding the tax cut in Pennsylvania, one that benefitted specific groups of people more than others.

“He didn’t have a problem voting for a $1.7 billion tax cut that only benefitted the filthy rich. Not just the rich — but the filthy rich,” Hughes said.

It should be noted that everyone got tax relief from those cuts, but most analysts argue the rich got the lion’s share.

Hughes insists the rescue plan will lift up poor neighborhoods and the middle class, who will spend the money and stimulate the economy.

“When you put people back to work those individuals pay their taxes. They make a contribution,” Hughes said.

Governor Wolf’s spokeswoman said, “As has repeatedly been said to Sen. Toomey, Pa. needs this funding to avoid either massive tax increases or draconian service cuts.”

But Toomey continues to repeat that there’s no COVID-caused fiscal crisis in the Commonwealth.

“If you thought there was, you’d have to ask yourself, ‘Why is Governor Wolf proposing an 11% spending increase in next year’s budget?’ He evidently is not too worried about finding the revenue,” Toomey said.

The Independent Fiscal Office said Monday that state revenues are running ahead of projections this fiscal year, but the state is still behind where it would have been, had there been no pandemic.

Its more complete budget analysis will be released next month.

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