News & Brews September 7, 2023

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Pa. removes employee email public database

Spotlight PA reports that back in May, Pennsylvania officials “removed a searchable, online database of state employee emails, narrowing the ways the public can reach the people who work for commonwealth agencies.” According to the Office of Administration, the decision came as a way to crack down on cybersecurity threats. But some say it makes it more difficult for Pennsylvanians to contact public employees.

Shapiro signs executive order on gov’t contracts and small businesses

Capitolwire reports that on Tuesday, Gov. Shapiro “signed an executive order intended to increase the number of small businesses and small diverse businesses that get state government contracts.” As a result of the order, “the revenue limit to qualify as a small business will increase from $38.5 million to $47 million.” The order also “establishes an advisory council on inclusive procurement to ensure that agencies are doing as much as possible to help minority-owned small businesses get … contracts.”

Philly Inquirer makes up ‘facts’

This story needs a mention (and a dose of reality) as it was front and center on the Inquirer’s homepage throughout yesterday. The story claims most school districts are underfunded, and it has nifty charts showing the supposed gap between actual and ‘target’ funding. Here are (some of) the problems. First, the story relies on data that the Commonwealth Court was “not convinced” by in the recent landmark school funding case. Second, the story uses three-year-old data, despite the availability of more recent data. Third, the story ignores nearly $3 billion in additional school funding that lawmakers have supported since then. Fourth, the story suggests Philly’s public schools get about $11,000 per student—a figure that’s about $11,000 short of the actual number of more than $22,000. Click here for a Twitter thread of more fact-checking (login required).

Op-Ed: ‘Dem’s law enforcement failures hit home’

Commonwealth Foundation Fellow Guy Ciarrocchi takes aim at Democrats’ lax attitude toward strict law enforcement in relation to the escape of a convicted murderer from a Chester County prison last week. In case you’re not following the story, Danilo Cavalcante—convicted of murder in the U.S. and also accused of murder in his native Brazil—escaped on August 31 and has been on the run since. Ciarrocchi writes the incident happened “because too many Democrat politicians don’t take law enforcement and transparency seriously. They don’t believe in accountability or results. They believe in a cult-like ideology that is anti-police and pro-criminal.”

How budget impasse is affecting court fees

With the Democrat-controlled state House not scheduled to return to session until Sept. 26—and portions of the state budget still undone—the Post-Gazette reports that the state court system is losing about $3.7 million per month in surcharges, while those who pay the charges are saving the same. “Authorization under state law for a pair of surcharges … expired on July 31. While lawmakers and Gov. Josh Shapiro have put in place much of the state budget, a laundry list of legislative items remains undone. One is approving language that reauthorizes surcharges that help fund the state’s Unified Judicial System.”

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