News & Brews February 9, 2022

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Five takeaways from Wolf’s budget address

Yesterday, Gov. Wolf delivered his eighth and final state budget address. As his pattern has been throughout his tenure, he called for spending increases, including a massive 16.6% increase in General Fund spending. Check out the Commonwealth Foundation’s five takeaways from the address. Separately, PennLive highlighted that while Wolf is painting a rosy budget picture, legislative Republicans are warning that spending sprees now will come back to haunt us later.

Why is budget board hiding IFO finding on education funding?

When the state’s Independent Fiscal Office last month released a performance-based budget report on the Department of Education, it contained a notable sentence related to the 2018-19 school year: “The data suggest there is little or no correlation between the current expenditures spent per student and the share of students that score proficient or above on standardized tests” (see p.15). Of course, this finding defies the “we need more money” narrative from teachers’ unions and Democrats. Maybe that’s why some lawmakers seem to be trying to hide the finding. Read the story at Broad + Liberty.

Unhappy with state Supreme Court mask ruling, some appeal to feds

Here’s an interesting read. After our Democrat Supreme Court struck down the Wolf administration’s school mask mandate because the Department of Health acted beyond its authority, it appears there’s a coordinated effort to do an end-run around the court’s ruling. Several individual school districts are being sued in federal court, with plaintiffs saying the districts are not protecting medically vulnerable students by not having mandates. Attorney J. Chadwick Schnee notes, however, that the same argument could go both ways: For example, mask mandates could fail to protect “a child with speech-pathology issues or a hearing disability.” Read the story here.

Rothman running for state senate

Rep. Greg Rothman (Cumberland County), who has served in the House since 2015, announced he’s running for state Senate in the newly drawn 34th Senate District that will include most of Cumberland County, part of Dauphin County, and all of Perry County. In addition to this legislative service, Rothman chairs the House Republican Campaign Committee, which is tasked with electing Republicans to the state House. Read more here.

A look at the new Senate map

Yesterday, I shared Spotlight PA’s take on the how the new state House map stacks up on “compactness, contiguity, minimal splits, and equal population.” Here’s Spotlight’s similar analysis of the new state Senate map. Anyone can challenge either map in court within 30 days of last Friday’s vote approving the maps.

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