News & Brews August 15, 2023

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Union contracts projected to cost taxpayers $3.2 billion 

According to a preliminary analysis released yesterday by the state’s Independent Fiscal Office (IFO), union contracts negotiated behind closed doors with Gov. Shapiro are projected to cost taxpayers $3.2 billion over four years. The analysis is based on the recently ratified AFSCME contract, which historically sets the stage for provisions included in other contracts. PennLive has more.

Lawmakers seek to clarify powers of ‘acting’ cabinet secretaries

Republicans Sens. Kristin Phillips-Hill (York County) and Judy Ward (Blair, Fulton, Huntingdon, Juniata and Mifflin counties) are proposing a constitutional amendment to address “unconfirmed executive cabinet secretaries.” Under the proposed amendment, cabinet secretaries who have not been confirmed by the Senate—and, as a result, remain “acting secretaries”—would not be able “to perform certain actions, such as issue executive orders or promulgate regulations on behalf of the governor.” The senators note, “Over the course of the last administration, there were more than 30 acting secretaries serving in official capacities without the consent of the Senate. The current administration has continued this trend, allowing a nominee to continue in her role as acting secretary even after a failure to garner sufficient support for confirmation.”

State-related universities’ lack of transparency under scrutiny

The Post-Gazette reports, “Debates about funding for Pennsylvania’s state-related universities have sparked renewed questions over accountability and transparency at these schools.” The story notes that these universities “receive millions of dollars in government funds.” But “they are only required to report minimal information about their finances every year.” What’s more, they “are exempt from large portions of Pennsylvania’s Right-to-Know Law.”

Meuser: Fighting for small businesses

U.S. Rep. Dan Meuser, representing Pa.’s 9th congressional district, has an op-ed in the Allentown Morning Call on GOP efforts to implement pro-growth policies that will empower small businesses. He writes that at a recent small business roundtable, entrepreneurs shared their concerns over “[r]ising inflation, soaring energy costs, … supply chain issues, … [and] ill-conceived rules, regulations, and taxes.” He outlines ways Congress can improve the climate for American businesses to succeed and compete.

How Pa. plays into latest Trump indictment

The Post-Gazette reports that Pa. factors “prominently” in the fourth indictment of former President Donald Trump, which was brought yesterday in Georgia. Specifically, Pa. “is mentioned 46 times in the 41-count indictment.” The latest indictment also brought continued criticism that it’s “politically motivated.”

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