News & Brews March 5, 2021

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Wolf overspends budget by nearly $1 billion

Most of us have probably overspent here and there, right? But probably not to the tune of nearly $1 billion — of someone else’s money. The Center Square reports that Wolf’s Department of Human Services is trying to defend $941 million in spending beyond the budget approved last year. If you’re wondering who gets to pay for it, go get a mirror.

In-person learning group adds lobbying to its arsenal

Did you know that according to the Pennsylvania Public School Code, if there’s an emergency, schools can stay closed for up to four years? Apparently so. The woman behind the recently formed Keeping Kids in School PAC is adding lobbying to her efforts to restore in-person learning. Separately but relatedly, Rep. Carrie Lewis DelRosso (Allegheny and Westmoreland counties) plans to introduce legislation to ensure access to in-person education for those who want it. Notably, her cosponsorship memo says, “My legislation would not require students to attend in-person instruction, nor would it require schools to offer in-person instruction. It simply says that schools with no in-person instruction must give families an option to use their child’s share of state education funding to access educational alternatives. This would help ensure every child in every family in every community has equal opportunity to attend the school that’s best for them.”

Philly school board denies new charters…as its own schools remain closed

Yesterday, the Philadelphia School Board unanimously denied applications for five new charter schools in a repeat performance of its decision last year to deny any new charters. While district schools remain closed (for nearly a year now), the board complained the applications had “glaring holes” in them. Whether or not that’s true, we imagine one of the supposed holes was not, “and our schools will stay closed for an entire year.” That said, the denials are not surprising, as public charter schools are competition for traditional public schools and offer parents options other than their zip-code assigned schools. And when you’re not really confident in your product, competition isn’t generally welcome.

What’s world’s most expensive toll road? (rhymes with DA burnpike)

Tough one, I know, but if you guessed PA Turnpike, you win! Turns out a recent report found our turnpike is the most expensive toll road in the world. I mean, we even come in ahead of the Grossglockner High Alpine Road in Austria, which, incidentally, has far better views. (Just sayin’.) The Bucks County Courier Times has more.

39 groups (including PA group) urge SCOTUS to take up union case

Thirty-nine public policy organizations across the country, including the Commonwealth Foundation in Pennsylvania, filed an amicus brief with the U.S. Supreme Court in support of a case calling “for an immediate end to laws that force public-sector employees to accept a union’s exclusive representation.” The case is being spearheaded by the Buckeye Institute in Ohio.

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