News & Brews December 18, 2023

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Shapiro admin cancels contract for voter system upgrade

Spotlight PA reports that Gov. Shapiro’s administration “has canceled a planned upgrade to Pennsylvania’s system for managing voter rolls, leaving officials stuck for the foreseeable future with a process and technology they say is outdated and inefficient.” The cancellation means election administrators will “have to continue to use the Statewide Uniform Registry of Electors, known as SURE, which has caused problems in the past.” Spotlight notes, “It remains unclear what counties will do with equipment they purchased in anticipation of the new system and if that equipment will be compatible with whatever comes next.”

Pa. Dems make (some) 2024 endorsements

At its meeting this past weekend, the Pa. Democrat Party endorsed state Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta (Philadelphia) for auditor general and state Rep. Ryan Bizzarro (Erie County) for treasurer. Among the multiple candidates running for attorney general, none earned the necessary two-thirds vote for an endorsement, although former Auditor General Eugene DePasquale was the frontrunner. The race for attorney general will be open, as current AG Michelle Henry, who is finishing Gov. Shapiro’s term, is not running for re-election. Meanwhile, Democrats will challenge Republican incumbents Tim DeFoor and Stacy Garrity for auditor general and treasurer, respectively.

Pa. Dem Party tables resolution against school choice

Last week, the Pa. Democrat Party appeared poised to vote at its meeting this past weekend on a resolution opposing school vouchers. Instead, “State Sen. Sharif Street (D., Philadelphia), who chairs the state party, said the rules committee tabled the anti-voucher resolution after the Democratic National Committee reached out to him with concerns that the party would appear divided going into the hotly contested 2024 election,” the Inquirer reports. Of course, this is telling. Many Democrat voters support school choice.

13 things to know about bills passed in December

City & State PA brings us up to speed on budgetary and other bills the legislature sent to Gov. Shapiro’s desk last week. Among the highlights are a $150 million expansion of school choice tax credit scholarship programs. Among the low points: an increase in the cell phone tax.

Op-Ed: ‘Lawmakers should not ignore educational freedom’

Pastor Josh Robertson, Senior Pastor of The Rock Church in Harrisburg and CEO and Founder of the Black Pastors United for Education, writes in PennLive that “Pennsylvania has reached a critical moment in education,” as “33 high schools have zero students performing grade-level math; [and] six have no students reading at grade level.” He notes, “There is a disconnect between our tax dollars and the subsequent education our children receive. We need to see a return on our investment in education.” The way to do this is to give students “educational freedom and opportunity.”

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