News & Brews July 19, 2022

State constitutional amendments to watch

With a governor who loves a veto, legislators have taken to the (rightfully) long and painstaking process of passing constitutional amendments, like the landmark amendment passed last year that limits the emergency power of the executive office. PennLive has a rundown of the constitutional amendments in process, including those that: require voter identification, allow gubernatorial candidates to choose their running mates, enable the state auditor general to conduct regular election audits, and more. Read more.

State takes action to address teacher shortage

“Pennsylvania faces an educator workforce crisis. While the overall numbers of new educators entering the profession continues to decline, the rate of educators leaving the profession continues to accelerate,” according to a new report from the state Department of Education (PDE). To combat the problem, PennLive reports, the General Assembly’s school code, “imposes a three-year moratorium on requiring students pursuing careers in education to pass a basic skills assessment and creates pathways for out-of-state teachers to have reciprocity for their certifications to teach in Pennsylvania.” The PDE has other plans to combat the problem, including a guiding principle of the “incorporation of diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging into every aspect of our work.” One has to wonder if endless closures and mandates had anything to do with the exodus of teachers, but no mention of that in the PDE’s recommendations.

Missing $155 million? NBD says Turnpike

The PA Turnpike, which has a rich history of corruption and financial mismanagement and, as ever-rising toll rates indicate, is clearly in desperate need of money, casually reported that unpaid tolls went up nearly 50% last year. “A quarterly report prepared for the turnpike showed that for the fiscal year that ended May 31, the agency had uncollected tolls of $155 million,” reports the Morning Call. But for those of you pinching pennies for the privilege to pay Turnpike tolls, just know that the agency spokesman “wasn’t particularly concerned,” about the dramatic increase. Stronger language is used in the “insufficient balance” letters I receive than in regards to the missing $155 million.

You can’t spend your way out of this one

Gov. Wolf hasn’t given up his hope to spend Pennsylvania out of inflation. Last week, his press secretary indicated that Wolf will still be pushing for $2,000 stimulus checks to be mailed out to Pennsylvanians, despite the COVID relief funds that he initially suggested using being spent on other programs (programs, which Commonwealth Foundation’s Jennifer Stefano points out, won’t have funding once this one-time source is used up). Consumer prices going up? More government spending should help! Read more.

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