News & Brews January 27 2022

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Wolf vetoes congressional map, court to start hearings today

Last night Gov. Wolf vetoed the citizen-drawn congressional map the Legislature had sent him, in essence guaranteeing the courts will choose the new map. In preparation for this possibility, the Commonwealth Court had already scheduled two days of hearings, beginning today, on proposed maps. The AP notes that more than a dozen maps were submitted by parties including “Wolf’s office, Democratic lawmakers, Republican lawmakers, partisan groups of voters and good-government groups.” Any decision by the Commonwealth Court could be appealed to the state Supreme Court. You can access court documents here.

NDA requested, not required, for pension board members

Board members of our state’s largest pension fund are only being asked—not required—to sign a non-disclosure agreement before hearing the findings of an international investigation of the fund, according to a spokesperson. Spotlight PA reports that this statement “clarified a previous controversial email from the board’s chairman, asking members to sign NDAs without saying they had the option to refuse.” The story notes, “A law firm is to unveil the results of its investigation at a closed-door session for the PSERS board on Monday morning. But the board has yet to decide whether, how soon, and how completely those findings will be made public after the meeting.”

Wolf, lawmakers, agree on hospital aid

Democrat and Republican lawmakers joined Gov. Wolf yesterday in supporting $225 million in funding to help hospitals retain and recruit staff. PennLive reports, “Money for the package will come from the federal American Rescue Plan, which provided Pennsylvania with billions to address things related to COVID-19.” While the Senate unanimously passed the measure, the House still needs to approve it, but it’s expected to pass that chamber easily.

Op-Ed: PA’s out-of-control spending is driving residents away

Nathan Benefield, senior vice president at the Commonwealth Foundation, has an op-ed in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review noting that “irresponsible spending has a clear consequence: our most productive residents will simply leave.” Benefield writes that this trend of outmigration “will continue to shrink Pennsylvania’s workforce, causing staffing shortages and stagnant economic growth.” But the good news is there is a way to reverse this trend. Read more here.

First a state meteorologist, now this…

Do you remember back in 2015, when we were smack in the middle of state budget impasse and Gov. Wolf thought it a good idea to hire a taxpayer-funded state meteorologist, which was a role PA had not previously had? I don’t know how we would have weathered the past seven years without this…… Well, now, PA will also have a taxpayer funded “director of outdoor recreation.” I’m not even kidding. I mean, I’m a huge fan of the outdoors, and I’m sure the new hire is quite qualified in his own right. But is this really where taxpayer dollars should go?

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