News & Brews December 14, 2023

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After five-month budget impasse, Pa. House passes school code with school choice expansion

PennLive reports, “After five-and-a-half months of impasse and false starts, Pennsylvania finalized a deal Wednesday to tie up most of the loose strings that have been left hanging in the commonwealth’s 2023-24 budget.” Yesterday, the Pa. House voted 175-28 in favor of the school code, which includes a $150 million increase in Pennsylvania two popular tax credit scholarship programs. House Democrats had previously blocked this bill from passing. Lawmakers also passed a fiscal code bill yesterday which, among other things, will increase the cell phone tax, which is used to fund county 911 systems. Gov. Shapiro signed the bills late last evening.

Pa. worst in nation in grocery story inflation 

CBS Pittsburgh reports, “A new Consumers Affairs report shows that Pennsylvania has had the largest increase in grocery prices year over year. Prices that were analyzed are up 8.2% in Pennsylvania in the last 12 months.” The report notes, “The states with the lowest grocery price hikes are located all over the map, but over 12 months their price hikes were barely half as large as Pennsylvania’s.”

Op-Ed: ‘Pa. House Democrats want you to pay striking workers’

Commonwealth Foundation Senior Fellow of Labor Policy David Osborne has an op-ed in RealClear Pennsylvania addressing efforts by Pa. House Democrat lawmakers to give taxpayer-funded government benefits to union members who go on strike. David explains how the proposal would not only “further empower union leadership to prolong the duration of strikes” but also provide “an extortive recruiting device to union organizers.”

Lawmakers vote down >$33M in UPenn funding

Yesterday, Pa. House lawmakers voted against sending more than $33 million to the University of Pennsylvania veterinary school following the resignation of former UPenn President Liz Magill over her refusal to say whether calls for genocide against Jews violate UPenn’s code of conduct. The AP reports, “The legislation won a majority in two different votes, but it failed to reach the two-thirds majority required by the state Constitution.” House Republican Leader Bryan Cutler (Lancaster County) said, “Until more is done at the university in terms of rooting out, calling out and making an official stance on antisemitism being against the values of the university, I cannot in good conscience support this funding.”

On the 2024 campaign front

The Cook Political Report has moved Pennsylvania’s 10th Congressional District, currently represented by GOP Rep. Scott Perry, from “likely” Republican to “leans” Republican. PoliticsPA explains, “A rating of “Likely” means races are not considered competitive at this point but have the potential to become engaged. A rating of “Lean” means races are considered competitive races, but one party has an advantage.” Separately, former Democrat state Rep. Alan Butkovitz, who had announced his candidacy for state Treasurer, has withdrawn from the race as he recovers from a heart-attack he experienced in November. We wish him a speedy and complete recovery.

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