News & Brews July 7, 2023

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WSJ: ‘Josh Shapiro’s school choice sellout’

The Wall Street Journal Editorial Board writes, “So much for Pennsylvania Gov. Josh Shapiro’s gutsy support for school choice” after he “caved … to his party and the unions and will nix the scholarships from the state budget.” The Ed Board calls his move “an embarrassing surrender” and notes his excuse doesn’t hold up, “since he should be at the height of his political clout and he only needed to turn a vote or two in his own party.”

Shapiro tries to find cover by blaming Senate

Yesterday, Gov. Josh Shapiro tried to blame the Senate for the budget dispute, accusing them of sending the House a bill they knew the House wouldn’t approve. Senate Appropriations Chair Scott Martin (Lancaster and Berks counties) wasn’t having any of it. “The Governor informed the House Majority Leader that he and his team would negotiate directly with Senate Republicans to get the final deal. Governor Shapiro’s responsibility was to get House Democrats on board with the deal he negotiated.” Martin wrote, “He failed spectacularly, and then gutted our agreement. He took the first escape hatch he could find to avoid taking the blame for his failure to lead. It is unconscionable that the governor backed out of our negotiated agreement.”

Pa. budget impasse ‘will happen anyway’

With Gov. Shapiro’s backtrack on supporting school choice, the budget impasse he claims his veto will avoid … will happen anyway. Even though the House and Senate both passed the spending legislation, “the Senate must complete the routine task of signing the measure during a legislative session day before it can go to Shapiro for his signature,” the Inquirer reports. “The state Senate is not scheduled to reconvene until Sept. 18, and a spokesperson for the top Senate Republican said President Pro Tempore Kim Ward has no intention of recalling members before that.” Ward added that Shapiro could still avoid the impasse by “deliver[ing] on his campaign promise” and supporting the school choice program.

Funding for state-related universities stalls in House

Yesterday, legislation to fund Pennsylvania’s state-related universities failed to garner the necessary two-thirds majority in the House. This comes on the heels of a previous disagreement over funding legislation. PennLive reports that House Republican Leader Bryan Cutler (Lancaster County) and other GOP lawmakers “continued to harbor the same concerns they did last week, namely that the universities – save Lincoln – had not guaranteed they wouldn’t raise tuition and that the schools were not subject to the state’s right-to-know law and had limited financial reporting rules, despite accepting taxpayer dollars.

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