News & Brews April 21, 2021
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Survey: Wolf’s restrictions biggest challenge facing businesses
Yesterday, the House Majority Policy Committee released the results of a survey of 921 business owners statewide. As the PLS Reporter reports (paywall), the survey “found that nearly a third of all respondents said the state’s COVID-19 mitigation restrictions were the biggest challenge facing their respective businesses.” Twenty-one percent cited financial issues and hardships as the top challenge, while 11 percent identified declines in customers and difficulty hiring and bringing back workers. According to Committee Chair Marty Causer (McKean, Cameron, and Potter counties), “Their message is simple. They want the governor and the government to get out of the way so they can do what they do best run their business.”
PSERS’ drama continues
The state’s largest pension fund has “hired an outside manager to oversee its complex and low-performing investments,” The Philly Inquirer reports. Versus Investments, based in Seattle, will assume a role previously done by PSERS chief investment officer James Grossman. Grossman, incidentally, is PA state government’s highest-paid employee. (Um, thank you, Taxpayers?) The Inky continues, “Grossman hasn’t left his position. But the ’emergency’ hiring is needed to monitor and oversee investments during ‘internal and external investigations’ of PSERS investments, the fund said.”
Top lawmakers: Vote yes on May 18
Yesterday, Senate President Pro Tempore Jake Corman and Senate Majority Leader Kim Ward headed a news conference emphasizing that voting “yes” on two constitutional amendments relating to a governor’s emergency powers “is a way to restore balance, a way to restore collaborative work moving forward here in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.” Gov. Wolf’s spokesperson responded by accusing Republicans of lying about the amendments, but ironically it’s the Wolf administration’s biased wording of the amendments on the ballot that seeks to mislead the public. Check out VoteYesPA for more details.
Op-Ed: We need to help students catch up (with big caveat)
Rich Askey, president of the Pennsylvania State Education Association (PSEA), the state’s largest teachers’ union, has an op-ed in the progressive Pennsylvania Capital-Star celebrating the influx of federal funds for education and claiming his union wants to help kids catch up. This is the same PSEA that fiercely opposes any opportunities for students that do not also fill union coffers. Indeed, multiple proposals to actually help kids–through Education Savings Accounts and other flexible options–have drawn criticism from Askey’s union. And while Mr. Askey testified in August that his union is “laser focused” on getting schools opened, his union has also fought against…getting schools opened. So, tell us again, Mr. Askey, do you really want to help students?
Driven by COVID policies, PA parents eye education alternatives
The Delaware Valley Journal looks at how Education Savings Accounts, or ESAs, which would give parents options for their kids’ schooling, are particularly appealing amid COVID-related shutdowns that continue to keep many school districts from returning to “normal” education. According to polling from the Commonwealth Foundation, 73% of PA voters support ESAs.
On May 18, VoteYesPA to save lives and livelihoods
On May 18, voters can approve two proposed constitutional amendments that would restore a legislative check and balance on Gov. Wolf’s (and any future governor’s) emergency powers. Check out VoteYesPA.com, which has resources including link to request a mail-in ballot, a VoteYesPA sign you can download and print, a sample email businesses can send encouraging others to vote yes on May 18, and more.