News & Brews January 20 2022
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Senate committee advances school choice expansion
Yesterday, the Senate Education Committee advanced legislation, sponsored by Republican Sen. Mike Regan (Cumberland and York counties), that would automatically increase the caps on Pennsylvania’s tax credit scholarship programs based on demand, providing greater educational opportunity for thousands of families. Following the vote, Sen. Regan stated, “Some of these kids may never get the opportunity to lift themselves out of poverty or an inevitable life of crime and prison because their taxpayer-funded public schools continue to fail to provide them the education and support they need to break the cycle. Ultimately, this is about lives. Changing and improving the lives of young people.” All Democrats on the committee opposed the legislation, which now heads to the full Senate for consideration.
Turzai not running for gov, while White puts $3M into his bid
After much speculation on whether he would formally toss his hat into the ring, former House Speaker Mike Turzai announced he will not run for governor. Instead, he said “for now, focusing on family and work is what matters most.” Meanwhile, Delaware County businessman and GOP gubernatorial candidate Dave White has put $3 million of his own money into his campaign and reportedly has $2.5 million cash-on-hand. The LNP has more.
We’ve announced our gubernatorial endorsement
Some news from us! Commonwealth Partners has announced our endorsement of former U.S. Attorney Bill McSwain for governor. Our president and CEO, Matt Brouillette, stated, “From his courage as a United States Marine defending our freedom to his service as a U.S. Attorney fighting to keep Pennsylvanians safe and uphold our constitutional rights, Bill McSwain has proven he is ready to lead Pennsylvania through the challenges we face.” Read our full announcement here, and check out media coverage in the Delaware Valley Journal and Broad + Liberty.
Commonwealth Foundation files amicus brief in school funding case
Our friends at the Commonwealth Foundation (CF) have filed an amicus brief in the lawsuit challenging how Pennsylvania funds education. In announcing the brief, CF notes, “The U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics ranks Pennsylvania seventh in the nation in education funding in the 2018-2019 school year, with school districts receiving $19,000 per student. The national average was about $15,000 per student. Pennsylvania taxpayers spend nearly $4,200 more per student than the national average.” Read more at CF’s website here, or read the full brief here.
Update on yesterday’s DOH vaccine mandate story
Yesterday, I shared that CBS 21 reported that the Department of Health was planning to implement a vaccine mandate for healthcare workers. My reading of the story was that this was separate from the federal CMS mandate recently upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court. The Pennsylvania Health Care Association (PHCA) followed up with DOH about this. The response they received is that the mandate DOH was referring to was, indeed, the CMS mandate. PHCA shared with me, “That mandate, which has its first deadline set for Jan. 27 for all health care providers that receive Medicaid or Medicare funding, has an exception for facilities that reach an 80% vaccination rate by Jan. 27 and have a clear plan to achieve a 100% staff vaccination rate. This exception gives the provider an extension to reach the targeted goal.” Thanks to PHCA for the clarification!
Gov. candidates agree that PSERS should release internal report
It appears there’s one point of agreement among multiple gubernatorial candidates, regardless of party: Our state’s largest pension fund should release the result of an internal investigation. Apparently, the report contains “derogatory” info that some PSERS staff might not like. Nevertheless, Republican and Democrat gubernatorial candidates alike believe PSERS needs to come clean with the public. Will they? That remains to be seen.