News & Brews September 14, 2023

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Taxes? Rainy Day Fund? Education hearing talks both

The Post-Gazette reports, “The prospect of having to generate billions of dollars in new education funding had Pennsylvania lawmakers talking Wednesday about major tax increases or tapping the state’s … Rainy Day Fund and budget surplus. The unappealing scenarios were broached at the second hearing held by the Basic Education Funding Commission….” GOP Sen. Kristin Phillips-Hill (York County), the commission co-chair, warned of using one-time funds for recurring expenses. Democrat Rep. Mike Sturla (Lancaster County), the other co-chair, said his constituents might support a 1 percentage point increase in the state’s personal income tax rate. (If you’re a constituent, do let us know if this is accurate.) The commission’s next meeting is today at 2:00 p.m. You can watch it here.

On local gun law effort, justices seem wary to intervene

The Inquirer reports, “Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court justices on Wednesday questioned whether a lawsuit filed by the city that seeks to allow Philadelphia officials to enact local gun laws was a matter that the court should consider at all — or if it was a policy debate more properly suited for the state legislature.” The city wants to enact laws stricter than state laws, but state law prohibits them from doing so. At yesterday’s hearing, judges asked why the city is trying to use the courts—rather than the appropriate legislative process—to change the law. “To me, it seems the remedy is through voting,” Chief Justice Debra Todd said. The justices did not indicate when a ruling might come.

Dems, GOP give different reason for improved Moody’s outlook

Moody’s Investor Services recently upgraded Pa.’s financial outlook from “stable” to “positive.” Democrat Gov. Josh Shapiro said this is the result of more spending. He also took credit, saying, “Together with leaders in both parties, we passed a bipartisan, commonsense budget.” Actually, the budget isn’t done, but details schmetails. Meanwhile, GOP Sen. Scott Martin said the upgrade was a result not of more spending but of fiscal responsibility. “For years, Senate Republicans have resisted calls for billions in new spending and taxes…,” he said. “We have done everything in our power to protect taxpayer dollars … and this announcement shows that we are on the right track.” Read more at The Center Square.

Op-Ed: One Maryland Democrat saved school choice

Commonwealth Foundation Senior Vice President Nathan Benefield explains in PennLive how one Maryland Democrat—Senate President Bill Ferguson—saved school choice in his state. This even though Democrats control the governor’s office and both legislative chambers. “Despite staunch opposition from [Gov.} Moore and House Democrats, Ferguson brokered a deal that reduced the proposed cut … and kept the program intact for future students.” Nate writes, “If one Democrat can save school choice in Maryland, surely another can do the same in Pennsylvania.”

In Allegheny County, GOP candidate draws new backing

Republican Joe Rockey, who is running for Allegheny County Executive, is drawing backing from a new outside group in his race against progressive Democrat Sara Innamorato. The Post-Gazette reports that the group, Save Allegheny County, “has booked more than $93,000 in TV advertising in the race.” While Innamorato is favored to win, “Republicans are … hoping that downbeat voter attitudes about crime and the economy [will] give them a shot at ending 20 years of Democratic rule.”

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