News & Brews July 7, 2022

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Voting on state budget to begin today

PennLive reports that both the House and Senate are expected to begin voting today on a $42 billion spending plan that’s about $3.5 billion more than last year. Yep, you read that correctly—$3.5 billion more. The story continues, “There are no hikes in the state’s sales tax or personal income tax and it includes a 10% reduction in the state’s tax on corporate profits. Further details of the budget bills were not publicly shared as of Wednesday evening. Even rank-and-file lawmakers complained about the dearth of information provided to them despite the fact they are expected to be voting on the budget in the next day or two.” Gee, a $3.5 billion increase in spending with few details available. What could go wrong?

As budget talks continue, some lawmakers opt for no pay

With budget negotiations ongoing, a bipartisan group of a dozen lawmakers said they will stop taking their salaries until the 2022-23 budget is complete, PennLive reports. Lawmakers typically are paid the first day of each month—and July 1 was also the start of the new fiscal year, which began without a budget in place. The lawmakers opting to forego pay are:

  • Rep. Frank Burns, D-Cambria County
  • Rep. Eric Davanzo, R-Westmoreland County
  • Rep. Pam DeLissio, D-Philadelphia
  • Rep. Tim Hennessey, R-Chester County
  • Rep. Brett Miller, R-Lancaster County
  • Rep. Eric Nelson, R-Westmoreland County
  • Rep. Clint Owlett, R-Tioga County
  • Rep. Leslie Rossi, R-Westmoreland County
  • Rep. Christina Sappy, D-Chester County
  • Rep. Melissa Shusterman, D-Chester County
  • Rep. Perry Warren, D-Bucks County
  • Rep. Thom Welby, D-Lackawanna Count

Pitt funding survives, despite fetal tissue research

House Republican lawmakers yesterday agreed to a plan that will fund the University of Pittsburgh with one bill, while adding a provision to prevent the university from conducting fetal tissue research to another bill—that bill is expected to die in the Senate. The Post-Gazette explains, “By separating these issues, House Republicans could advance funding for the four state-related universities by the necessary two-thirds vote from the chamber — while still allowing members to vote to stop fetal tissue research.” Pro-Life Caucus Chair Rep. Kathy Rapp said it’s “very discouraging” that many members who run as pro-life voted for the funding bill.

WSJ: Charter revisions not great, but not as bad as Biden wanted

The Wall Street Journal Editorial Board takes a look (paywall) at the Department of Education’s final revision to charter school rules, published yesterday. The Ed Board notes the proposed rules “read like a union list of impossible obstacles. A charter had to show ‘unmet demand’ for the school, such as over-enrollment in district schools; proof of ‘collaboration’ between the charter and a district school; and ‘plans to establish and maintain racially and socio-economically diverse student and staff populations.'” Amid outcry, the administration made some changes, although “even the revised Biden rules make it harder for charters to get federal funding, which will only hurt students who desperately need to make up for the instruction they didn’t receive in their traditional public schools.”

Pa. Turnpike considers 5% toll hike

Remember those annual turnpike toll hikes? The ones that hit every January? (I mean, who can forget?) Well, Capitolwire reports (paywall) that the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission is considering another hike, beginning January 8, 2023, which would increase tolls by 5% and apply to both EZ-Pass drivers and Toll-by-Plate drivers. The story notes, “The commission had approval of the toll increase as a new business item for its meeting on Tuesday, but postponed action until the scheduled July 19 meeting, said commission spokesman Carl DeFebo.” Meanwhile, you may recall that last year, one study found our turnpike is the most expensive toll road in the world.

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