News & Brews January 4, 2024

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Why Dems can’t rely on abortion initiatives in 2024

Here’s an interesting read from the national front. POLITICO has a piece on how Democrats’ hanging their hopes on abortion ballot initiatives this year to help their candidates win just might be disappointed. The outlet analyzed the votes of five abortion-related measures that have gone to voters since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade. “Voters decisively upheld abortion rights in every single case. But those margins were largely driven by Republican voters who also voted for GOP candidates. And Democratic turnout didn’t consistently increase in states with abortion referendums compared to those without.” According to one Democrat advisor, “It would be unwise for candidates in either party to think that an abortion-rights ballot initiative will automatically determine who wins or loses a race.”

Ed Funding Commission to deliver report by January 11

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that the Basic Education Funding Commission—tasked with reviewing how Pa. funds education—is slated to deliver its report and recommendations by January 11. “Any recommendations … are likely to be part of the next budget address, set to be delivered in February by Gov. Josh Shapiro.” And, “The potential impact on state finances is vast.” This is particularly true in light of the court ruling last year that found Pennsylvania’s current system of funding education is unconstitutional.

Op-Ed: ‘Are green agendas carrying governors to political cliffs?’

”As physics teaches us, every action has an equal and opposite reaction. Climate activists swung the political pendulum in one extreme direction. Now, the pendulum is heading toward its logical pivot: ‘Eco-friendly’ governments losing to skeptical political forces.” So writes Commonwealth Foundation Senior Fellow Gordon Tomb. And even as Gov. Shapiro “press[es] ahead with Pennsylvania’s proposed participation in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative,” it turns out “so-called ‘green’ technologies are having a tough go in the marketplace.”

Innamorato raises pay, but not for unionized workers

Newly sworn-in Allegheny County Executive Sara Innamorato announced yesterday “an increase in hourly wages for some county employees, more vacation time, and a change to a longstanding policy so that they can use sick and family leave as soon as they begin work,” the Post-Gazette reports. But the pay raise applies only to non-union employees. That’s because unionized employees are stuck in their union contract. (And, of course, they’re not allowed to negotiate pay or benefits individually.) Innamorato said her move will put the union in a better position to negotiate for higher wages. But in the meantime, union members will not see increased pay. Relatedly, it’s unclear what the long-term fiscal impact of Innamorato’s changes will be.

SEPTA board chief stepping down

Pat Deon, chairman of the board of the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) is stepping down from his role this month, as his latest five-year term ends. Deon announced in February that this would be his last term on the board, which he has led since 1999.

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