News & Brews March 11, 2022

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School funding trial ends, but decision months away

After four months, the trial over how Pennsylvania funds public education has ended, but a ruling is expected to take many months. At issue in the eight-year-old case is that some districts claim Pennsylvania is not providing a “thorough an efficient system of public education,” as required by the state constitution. They claim more funding is needed. The reality is Pennsylvania spends more than $19,000 per student, more than $4,200 more than the national average. But those who want more funding say the ‘state share’ of this spending is a smaller percent than in other states. Of course, this misses the point entirely. For example, if the state provided 100% of funding, but funding was less than the national average, would plaintiffs be satisfied? I think not.

PennDOT picks group to manage bridge-tolling project

The Wolf administration has selected a group of companies to manage its plans to upgrade and toll up to nine bridges on PA interstates. The AP reports that the group, “Bridging Pennsylvania Partners,” includes three international firms and several other firms with U.S.-based parent companies that have headquarters in PA. If you want to see the winning application, good luck: PennDOT hasn’t made it public.

Spotlight on PA construction industry

City & State PA caught up with Jon O’Brien, executive director of the Keystone Contractors Association, to talk about how Covid policies impacted the industry and how lawmakers can help the industry by cutting burdensome regulations. Read the interview here.

What’s caused nursing shortage? Look to inept government bureaucracy

We’ve heard for a long time about healthcare staffing shortages. Welp, maybe government needs to look in the mirror. WITF reports, “More than half of the 12,000 nurses issued licenses to work in Pennsylvania last year waited for three months or longer to get them, according to an NPR data analysis.” These wait times were among the worst in the 32 states the analysis covered. The chief nursing officer for Geisinger Health System noted, “Delays in getting nurses to the bedside to care for patients requires our current staff to work significant overtime, adding to burnout and further loss of nurses. It also requires hospitals to hire more agency staff, which drives the cost of healthcare higher, and in many cases closes down beds that cannot be staffed.” Naturally, Gov. Wolf’s Department of State blames everyone and everything else. Read the full story here.

House committee concludes budget hearings

As the House Appropriations Committee wrapped up state budget hearings, committee Chair Stan Saylor (York County) noted, “The governor’s massive spending spree would squander the entirety of our reserves and leave the next governor with massive budget deficits, with no reserves to combat it, and would guarantee the need to raise taxes or cut services.” Read the full statement here. The Senate Appropriations Committee still has several hearings to go. Check out the remaining schedule here.

Philly Parking Authority fires executive director

In the latest chapter of the drama that is the Philadelphia Parking Authority (PPA), the agency has abruptly fired its executive director, former state Rep. Scott Petri. PPA didn’t give a reason for the firing, although the Inquirer reports that in a letter to staff, PPA Board Chair Beth Grossman mentioned airport parking, referring to the Philadelphia Airport’s announcement this past January that it was nixing its contract with PPA to run the airport’s parking garages. PPA plans to conduct a national search for a replacement.

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