News & Brews June 14, 2023

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School funding lawsuit affecting budget negotiations

Spotlight PA dives into how the Commonwealth Court’s ruling that Pa.’s system of funding education is unconstitutional is impacting ongoing state budget negotiations. “Some lawmakers,” the story notes, “hope to include extra education funding in deference to the court’s ruling.” However, “talks over a larger education overhaul are expected to last much longer.” It’s (very) worth noting that the court did not mandate extra funding. Instead, the ruling noted that reform does not need to be “entirely financial,” and that “options for reform are virtually limitless.”

Shapiro to ‘outline reconstruction plan’ at I-95 visit

The Inquirer reports that Gov. Josh Shapiro plans to visit the site of the I-95 collapse today for the second time, where “he is slated to outline a reconstruction plan.” The Inky notes he “will appear alongside leaders of the Philadelphia Building & Construction Trades Council, a coalition of labor unions.” You can watch the event at 11:00 a.m. here. Beyond disrupting local traffic, the collapse is expected to impact shipping along the East Coast.

Pa. House votes to end cell phone tax, but…

Yesterday, the Pa. House voted unanimously to eliminate the sales tax and gross receipts tax on cell phone service. Bill sponsor Democrat Rep. Ben Waxman (Philadelphia) said the measure would deliver “a modest tax cut that will be felt the most by our poorest citizens.” Republicans, although voting for the bill, questioned its true impact. The Post-Gazette reports, “Rep. Seth Grove, R-York and ranking Republican on the House Appropriations Committee, told reporters last month that over time, any savings to consumers from a proposed elimination of cell phone taxes would be offset by proposed increases in the state’s 911 surcharge.”

A century (plus) of Prohibition in Pa. 

In the pages of the Butler Eagle, Dr. Aaron Cowan, a history professor at Slippery Rock University, looks back on the 1919 June evening in western Pennsylvania on the eve of Prohibition. He writes that despite expectations to the contrary, the “era …  arrived not with a bang, but a whimper.” He traces the impacts of Prohibition over the ensuing years and concludes that despite its repeal, its “legacy … remains in every transaction at a six-pack shop or bottle of wine purchased at a state [liquor] store.”

‘The other CRT’ in Pa. schools

As the battle over the teaching of critical race theory continues, the Pa. Department of Education is facing a lawsuit over what’s being called “the other CRT.” This refers to so-called “culturally-relevant and sustaining education” (CR-SE) guidelines that were issued late last year. RealClearPennsylvania Deputy Editor Michael Torres explains these guidelines, and why plaintiffs in the lawsuit are fighting back.

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