American citizens are being bought and paid for with the stimulus package

CHAMBERSBURG – With the passage of the $1.9 trillion COVID relief package Thursday, details are starting to come out and some of it is incredibly shocking. With state and local budgets not failing as much as anticipated in the face of a year-long pandemic, the payouts in the federal stimulus bill are aggressively over the top.

The State of Pennsylvania is going to get $30 billion. Franklin County will receive $30 million.

Chambersburg Area School District will see $23 million. Antrim Township will get $1.5 million.

Greencastle-Antrim School District will get almost $4 million. Waynesboro Area School District will get a little over $10 million.

It’s time for a resounding “what in the heck?”

State Representative Paul Schemel joined Pat Ryan and Michele Jansen on News Talk 103.7FM to discuss the issue. “This relief package is an absolute outrage,” Schemel said. “It’s an offense to every person who is a tax payer because you are being bought and paid for.”

Schemel texted a supervisor he knows in Antrim Township and that person said they don’t need the money at all, but they’re getting $1.5 million.

“Citizens are going to get checks,” Schemel continued. “Why? Why am I going to get a check? I haven’t lost my job. I’m in no financial disparity at all as a result of COVID 19. I recognize that some people are. We’re handing out money so that why? So that you remember the Democrats hand out money.”

The minute the United States House of Representatives passed the bill, the CNN website had a calculator to figure out what each American would get. They made it easy for you to see the money that would be rolling in.

“And that’s what this is about,” Schemel said. “It’s about buying and paying for the American voter.”

In addition, state employees could see $25,000 bonuses from this package. Why would state employees, who never lost a paycheck and even if they were furloughed got generous unemployment compensation, why in the world would they get $25,000 bonuses?

“I don’t know,” Schemel lamented. “As the weeks come, we will find out even more that’s packed in to this bill because as you know now they’ve passed it so now we can find out what’s inside of it.”

Indeed, the Wall Street Journal had an opinion piece that suggested Congress had to quickly pass the stimulus bill before everyone in the country recognized that the Trump economy is still rolling and we don’t need it.

And then there is the tax provision. This is where it gets really fun.

“Any entity that receives this money cannot give any tax relief,” Schemel said. “They cannot give a tax refund for two and a half years.” So $11 million came to the Chambersburg Area School District in December. It wasn’t included in last year’s budget.

“They told us they raised our taxes because ‘we’re not sure about COVID and we’re going to have all these expenses,’ and we tried to argue with them,” Jansen said. “Money’s probably coming from the government. Why do you want to do this to your neighbors right now? Businesses are closing, they’re struggling hard enough. Why would you burden them with more taxes? Why don’t you guys take a pay freeze and not take your raises this year? Teachers and admin? Neither one of them decided to take that freeze. No, we have to put this 3.5 mills on your backs here in Chambersburg Area School District.”

CASD will have a total of $33 million extra dollars when it’s all said and done – more than enough to cover the tax increase. But, wait! That provision!

“I’m not blaming these districts,” Schemel said. “They didn’t ask for it (stimulus money) and I know that they will be able to use it, but they’re not going to be able to give any tax relief for that. I hope, I hope that no government entity uses this money to hire people because it’s a one-time gig.”

If they use the money to hire people, what will happen next year when they don’t have that money? They won’t be able to afford to pay the new hires.

By law, the money can’t be applied to pensions, either, which is a shame for Pennsylvania and the pension debt the state has accrued. Jansen called for real, conscious transparency as to how the money is used.  

Schemel noted, “the good thing for us in Franklin County is that all of this money will be spent by your local elected officials. Those are the people who will be making the decisions on how to spend that money.”

Jansen worried, “I feel like it gives them plausible deniability in every direction. I kind of see the human nature in that. We’re going to get checks. Am I going to turn down my check? No. But they’re going to say ‘our hands are tied, we can’t reduce taxes either and you can’t blame us for that because that’s in the law.’”

She continued, “I almost feel like it was almost purposefully done so that if there is going to be spending that maybe is irresponsible, you can’t really hold them accountable for it in any meaningful way.”

“I can guarantee…a number of my colleagues are salivating at spending this money,” Schemel said. “We’re going to get over $7 billion. So we’re not going to have to make difficult decisions like we should have to because we’re irresponsible spenders to begin with. So it allows us to continue to be flagrant spenders of tax payer money.”