News & Brews August 31, 2023

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Pa. Senate advances budget implementation bills 

Yesterday, the state Senate advanced two separate budget implementation bills, or “code” bills. One addresses so-called “non-controversial” items, such as funding for community colleges, state aid to libraries, and non-public school safety initiatives. The other focuses on the source of the budget impasse: Lifeline Scholarships (or, as they’re now called, PASS Scholarships). The House is not scheduled to return to session until September 26. Whether that chamber will convene earlier remains unclear. Meanwhile, Gov. Shapiro blamed lawmakers for the ongoing impasse—which he triggered by reneging on his promise to support Lifeline Scholarships.

Pa. Senate committee votes to move primary election date

Yesterday, the Pa. Senate State Government Committee approved a measure to move the 2024 primary election date to March 19. It’s currently slated for April 23. which is not only “late in the game” when it comes to presidential primaries but also falls on the significant Jewish holiday of Passover. GOP Sen. Dave Argall (Carbon, Luzerne, and Schuylkill counties), who sponsored the legislation, said March 26 and April 2 are also under consideration.

The money behind opposition to school choice

The Commonwealth Foundation’s Kevin Mooney dives into the union dollars that are driving opposition to school choice in Pennsylvania. But despite the opposition, parents are continuing to fight to give their kids a shot at a great education. And this, Mooney writes, could help “level the playing field.”

Op-Ed: ‘The year of universal school choice’

When it comes to school choice, “2023 is blowing all previous years out of the water.” So write Marc LeBlond and Ed Tarnowski of EdChoice in the Washington Examiner. “This year,” they explain, “there were 112 bills introduced in 40 states relating to education savings accounts … vouchers, tax-credit scholarships, and refundable tax credits.” Beyond the numbers, though, they write, “What matters is that many of the school choice programs created or expanded this year provide universal student access, meaning all or nearly all students in those states will have the freedom to find an education that works best for them.”

Poll: <50% of people think Philly is safe

A Gallup poll shows just 47% of Americans think Philadelphia is safe. The survey was based on people’s perceptions of the city, without asking them about hard and fast data. Yet, the poll comes as Philly has experienced record high homicides in recent years.

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