News & Brews July 6, 2023

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Shapiro flips on school choice, vows to veto

In a move showing his lack of influence within his own party, Gov. Shapiro yesterday bowed to House Democrat Leader Matt Bradford and promised to line-item veto a school choice program included in the proposed budget. Bradford had refused to move the budget in his chamber due to the program, which Gov. Shapiro claimed he supported. Shapiro and Senate Republicans had negotiated the program into the version of the budget the Senate passed. But due to House Democrats’ opposition, Shapiro promised them that if they passed the budget with the program included, he would line-item veto it. The final House vote was 117-86.

Shapiro’s backtrack is ‘historic in its stupidity’

Reaction to Shapiro’s planned veto was intense. Senate Republican Leaders said, “Today, Governor Shapiro has decided to betray the good faith agreement we reached, leaving tens of thousands of children across Pennsylvania in failing schools.” House Republican Appropriations Chair Seth Grove said, “I have never, ever in my life seen a governor get a major win that he has been fighting for and then veto it. It is historic in its stupidity.” And our president and CEO Matt Brouillette said that “at the first sign of opposition, [Shapiro] gave up the fight to rescue kids trapped in failing schools. He claims he wins big fights, but in the first big fight of his administration—with kids’ futures on the line—he left the court without even taking one shot. Today, Gov. Shapiro showed who really runs this state, and it’s not him.”

What happens now? 

What’s next in the budget battle? Spotlight PA reports, “Lawmakers still have to approve code bills — complicated pieces of omnibus budget-enabling legislation that dictate state policy on things like taxing, spending, and education.” But “in a potentially more immediate problem, Pennsylvania’s Constitution requires that the presiding officers of each chamber sign off on all bills before they head to the governor’s desk. This is usually routine. However, the state Senate, now miffed by Shapiro’s reversal over vouchers, isn’t scheduled to be back in Harrisburg until September.” Senate Republican leaders stated, “the General Appropriation bill is not the final step in the budget process. The Senate will continue to await legislative action by the House on the remaining budgetary components, to see what House Democrats, with the slimmest majority, are able to advance.”

Biden admin sees I-95 repair as ‘key to reelection’

POLITICO reports that the Biden administration views the reopening of I-95 in Philly—fewer than two weeks after it collapsed—as “evidence of ‘Bidenomics’ success.” And the Biden team views it as “a tangible improvement people can see and feel that will be a centerpiece of the president’s 2024 campaign.” That said, despite the quick reopening, Biden’s approval rating in Pa. “remains well under the 50 percent mark.”

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