News & Brews March 8, 2023

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Gov. Shapiro delivers first budget address

In his first budget address yesterday, Gov. Shapiro called for $45.9 billion in General Fund spending. As the Commonwealth Foundation (CF) explains, his plan calls for “$43 billion in net state revenues (after refunds). Thus, Pennsylvania has a deficit between ongoing revenue and projected spending of almost $3 billion.”

Additionally, Shapiro shifted some spending off book, making his spending number appear smaller. (You’ll notice media are calling it as a $44.5 billion budget.) The Center Square reports, “According to legislative staff, the administration calculated the lower figure by incorporating $520 million in expiring federal Medicaid funding into its revenue total and removing $930 million spent on the Pennsylvania State Police out of the budget entirely.”

Beyond this, as CF notes, “Shapiro’s budget includes $663 million in funds from RGGI—effectively a tax that will increase home electricity prices by 30 percent.” And his “budget proposes no increase for Tax Credit Scholarships, does not include anything like the Lifeline Scholarship, and fails to provide for expanded educational opportunities.” 

Click here to read the full budget address.

Want more budget details? Mark your calendar…

Our friends at the Commonwealth Foundation are hosting a virtual Budget Briefing on Tuesday, March 21, from 12:00pm-1:00pm. Hear more about the budget lay-of-the-land, ask questions of policy experts, and more. Register here.

Mastriano considering run for U.S. Senate

In a rare (almost unheard-of) interview with a mainstream media outlet, Sen. Doug Mastriano told POLITICO that he’s considering challenging U.S. Sen. Bob Casey in 2024. The story notes, “What Mastriano ultimately decides to do will illuminate just how chastened the most diehard supporters of former President Donald Trump are after the 2022 midterms. Usually, losses of that magnitude drive people out of electoral politics. But the last three federal elections have been discouraging for Republicans, and each time, they’ve shown little desire to course correct…. Whether the GOP finally does move on will be determined, in large part, by how Republican primary voters treat potential and declared candidates like [Trump] and Mastriano.”

Special House election scheduled for May 16

Yesterday, House Speaker Joanna McClinton announced that May 16 will be the date for the special election to fill the seat left vacant when former Rep. Lynda Schlegel Culver won election to the state Senate. The district, in Northumberland and Montour counties, leans heavily Republican. As of now, 10 Republicans are vying for the nomination. No Democrat candidates have yet been announced.

Yesterday was deadline to file for elections

Yesterday was the filing deadline for candidates seeking to make the May primary ballot. The AP reports, “It’s clear those vying for a seat on the Pennsylvania Supreme Court or a term as Philadelphia’s mayor will face contested [primary] races….” On the high court, where one seat is open, Democrat Superior Court Judges Dan McCaffery and Deborah Kunselman will face off in the Democrat primary. On the Republican side, Montgomery County Common Pleas Judge Carolyn Carluccio and Commonwealth Court Judge Patricia McCullough will face off in the primary.

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