News & Brews November 16, 2023

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Pa. Supreme Court race ‘set precedent for outside influence’

Spotlight PA reported (finally) on out-of-state special interest spending, including so-called ‘dark money’ spending’ on behalf of Democrat Dan McCaffery in the recent Supreme Court race. With some reports still outstanding, spending for McCaffery reached $14 million, compared with $8 million for Republican Carolyn Carluccio (whom we supported). McCaffery’s backing came from the usual labor unions and trial lawyers, but also included out-of-state millionaires and billionaires, along with groups that don’t have to report their donors. (Typically, the Left hates these ‘dark money’ groups, except when they support candidates on the Left.)

Johnny Doc trial has Justice Dougherty playing defense

The Inquirer reports that attorneys for Pa. Supreme Court Justice Kevin Dougherty “are firing back” after a witness in the trial of Dougherty’s brother, former Philly labor leader John ‘Johnny Doc” Dougherty, “said the justice received free home repair work that was paid for with Local 98 funds.” Under cross-examination, the witness’s story “changed slightly … The contractor said that he did receive a check from Kevin Dougherty for the work – but only five years after the job had been completed and following a series of 2016 FBI raids on Local 98 offices that revealed agents were investigating misuse of the union’s money.”

Every Pa. House Dem votes against school choice 

Yesterday, the state Senate overwhelmingly (45-5) passed a school code bill that included multiple priorities of both Democrats and Republicans. These included a $150 million increase in Pennsylvania’s tax credit scholarship programs, a free breakfast and lunch program, $100 million in additional funding for school mental health programs, and more. Instead of passing the bipartisan bill—which even had the support of the anti-school-choice teachers’ union—House Democrats, on the urging of Democrat Leader Matt Bradford, stripped out the tax credit scholarship programs. Every Democrat in the House voted to block added funding for these popular school choice programs.

Where does $$ for state-related universities actually go? 

An analysis of data conducted by the Post-Gazette revealed, “Hundreds of millions of dollars in state money designated for ‘general support’ to the University of Pittsburgh and Temple University over five years was not distributed directly to the schools.” The P-G notes, “A series of written questions to several state agencies and the universities over the course of two days yielded answers which, taken together, indicate that some of the state-appropriated money arrives at the universities via an indirect route in order to obtain federal matching funds for health care organizations associated with the schools.” But it’s a process “almost entirely unknown to lawmakers who vote on appropriations.” And now, some of these lawmakers are asking questions.

Pa. House votes to give unemployment benefits to striking workers

Yesterday, the Pa. House voted 106-97 for legislation that would extend jobless benefits to workers who go on strike. Incidentally, these are the same jobless benefits that go to individuals who lose their jobs through no decision of their own. As the Commonwealth Foundation’s Nathan Benefield put it, “Taxpayers and job creators should not bear the burden of funding strikes. Raising taxes to incentivize walkouts and picket lines is a slap in the face to hardworking Pennsylvanians. We’ve seen firsthand how strikes hurt workers, taxpayers, and consumers alike, and this bill would only worsen matters.” The measure now heads to the Senate.

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