News & Brews December 13, 2023

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Is Biden hoping to ride Shapiro’s coattails in Pa.? 

Reporting on President Biden’s visit to Pennsylvania this past Monday, the Washington Examiner notes that the president is “lean[ing] on popular Gov. Josh Shapiro for a boost” in our important swing state. “Shapiro is one of many young Democratic governors who hope to boost Biden in 2024,” the story notes, “singing the virtues of the president’s leadership and contrasting them with the antics of former President Donald Trump.” Indeed, Shapiro’s “approval rating hovers around 60%, nearly 20 points higher than Biden’s in the Keystone State.” Whether this tactic will work remains to be seen.

Gov. Shapiro’s first year … media edition 

Spotlight PA has a piece looking at Gov. Josh Shapiro’s first year in office. The headline, however, is perhaps more congratulatory than warranted. It reads: “Gov. Josh Shapiro rebuilt a bridge, weathered a messy budget, and walked fine partisan lines in 2023.” For a bit of fact-checking. 1) A temporary I-95 bridge opened in fewer than two weeks, which was noteworthy. Nearly six months later, however, the permanent highway is still not rebuilt. 2) The budget is still incomplete. And 3) I suppose “walking fine partisan lines” means refusing to take a stand on issues for months (RGGI) or vetoing something you claim to support (Lifeline Scholarships).

Pa. awarded >77K tax credit scholarships in 2021-22

In the 2021-22 academic year, Pennsylvania awarded 77,640 K–12 tax credit scholarships through the Education Improvement Tax Credit (EITC) and Opportunity Scholarship Tax Credit (OSTC) programs. Unfortunately, this was only a percentage of the nearly 139,000 scholarship applications submitted. The Commonwealth Foundation notes that “more than 63,000 student scholarship applications went unfunded due to arbitrary program caps.”

‘Health-conscious’ Cheetos in 10th congressional district race? 

Democrat Sharmaine Daniels, who is running in the primary in hopes of challenging GOP U.S. Rep. Scott Perry (PA-10) next year, has introduced an AI chatbot to call voters. The AP reports that the tool “uses generative AI technology to devise immediate humanlike responses to voter questions…. When prompted, it clearly and accurately shared Daniels’ positions on affordable health care and education reform…. But when asked off-topic questions, the tool sometimes got tripped up and shared false information. In a conversation about snacks, it said Cheetos were ‘known for being both delicious and health-conscious.’” If this is a preview of next year’s elections, things could get interesting.

Op-Ed: ‘Worker’s Choice’ is the way forward

U.S. Rep. Eric Burlison (MO-7) and Institute for the American Worker President Vincent Vernuccio have an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal outlining legislation Rep. Burlison is proposing that would allow workers in right-to-work states who opt out of union membership to negotiate contracts directly with their employers. “Different workers could agree with the same employer to different contracts,” they write, adding that “individual workers know what they value. Some might negotiate different pay for different benefits or more flexibility.” Gov. Shapiro, siding with his union donors, has pledged never to allow a right-to-work environment in Pa. that would empower workers with this freedom.

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