News & Brews August 2, 2021

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If you like being tracked, you’ll love the Revenue Options Commission report

On Friday, Gov. Wolf’s Transportation Revenue Options Commission submitted its final report with recommendations on how to increase transportation funding while eliminating the gas tax. As expected, central to the commission’s recommendations is a “mileage based user fee” (MBUF), or a fancy way of saying you’d pay a tax for every mile you drive. Listed among the ‘potential concerns’ for such a tax is “a perception of public resistance to the tracking associated with MBUF.” Let’s get one thing straight. There’s not simply a “perception” of resistance. There’s public resistance. I mean, we’ve all seen how fabulously the state handled private health data. Just think what fun they could have with tracking our driving.

If you build it, they might not come

“As the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education finalizes the details of an historic consolidation, officials on the campuses of eight of its 14 universities are struggling to deal with another consequence of declining enrollments: entire wings and floors of dorms sitting empty.” The Tribune-Review examines the debt owed by State System universities (about $1.39 billion remains on residence halls), the result of overly ambitious school leaders who dropped millions into newer, “greener” residence halls but “recruiting campaigns were no match for the declining pool of new high school graduates and growing concerns about college costs that had some hesitating to trade student debt for a degree.”

A closer look at statewide judicial races

The AP takes a closer look at the candidates for the four state appeals court seats, including Commonwealth Partners’ endorsed candidates. “The result [of the state Supreme Court] won’t shift power on the high court, currently with a 5-2 Democratic majority, but in a state where the two parties have for decades been locked into a perpetual death match over political control, it will surely draw considerable money and the most statewide attention.”

Gov. Wolf asks legislature to extend opioid emergency declaration

Another unilateral emergency declaration now requires legislative input, thanks to two constitutional amendments passed in May, this time regarding the opioid crisis. “The governor can no longer unilaterally extend the 90-day disaster emergency declaration, something he had done more than a dozen times,” reports the Associated Press. Gov. Wolf is asking legislators to return to Harrisburg by August 26 to extend the declaration.

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