News & Brews April 5, 2023

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Pa.’s biggest coal plant to close

The Center Square reports that “Pennsylvania’s largest coal-fired power plant will shut down in July, leaving the commonwealth with only coal refuse-burning facilities.” The plant is the Homer City Power Plant outside of Pittsburgh. Responding to the news, Sen. Majority Leader Joe Pittman said, “The impacts of this closure will be felt by communities throughout Indiana County and the entire region in Western Pennsylvania. Beyond our area, this troubling news is a realization that we as a nation are at risk of losing the reliability of our power grid.” Indeed, the U.S. is on track to lose half of its coal capacity by 2026.

Gov. Shapiro’s plan to fund state police draws scrutiny

Spotlight PA breaks down Gov. Shapiro’s proposal to move funding for the state police off-book. He’s proposed “creating a new restricted bank account for state police” that “wouldn’t be subject to annual budget negotiations between the governor and legislature.” Some say this would provide the state police with a stable stream of revenue. But GOP House Appropriations Chair Seth Grove notes, “At what point do we just say, ‘All right, we’re done appropriating … We’ll just put it all on autopilot. Human services get 40% of the budget, education gets 40% of the budget, the rest of you fight over the 20%’ … I don’t think that’s the trajectory we want to go.”

Local reactions to Trump indictment 

The big political news yesterday was former President Trump’s indictment. The Delaware Valley Journal published reactions from local politicos. The Pittsburgh Tribune Review gathered comments from local legal experts. The progressive Pennsylvania Capital-Star compiled thoughts from Pa. elected officials. And WNEP sought out reactions from Pennsylvania voters.

WSJ: Milton Friedman’s school choice revolution 

Wall Street Journal columnist William McGurn writes that while Nobel Prize-winning economist Milton Friedman has been gone for nearly two decades, perhaps his greatest legacy—school choice—is coming to fruition. “Already this year, four states have adopted school choice for everyone—and it’s only April.” McGurn lists Pennsylvania as among several states that are working on school choice—albeit a “limited version.”

PSERS drama continues: Real estate edition 

The new leadership of the $70 billion Pennsylvania Public School Employees’ Retirement System (PSERS) is trying to clean up the old leadership’s mess. And the Inquirer reports that one part of this is “trying to sell a $1.4 billion portfolio of real estate that former managers purchased directly for the pension plan.” The story notes, “At their regular meeting Friday, trustees agreed to approve the sale of property held by Commonwealth Holdings Inc., one of several holding companies set up to help PSERS manage directly-owned properties.”

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