News & Brews January 12, 2024

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No consensus on Ed Funding Commission report

A split among the members of the Basic Education Funding Commission led to the release of not one but two reports yesterday. The Democrat majority report, which passed by a vote of 8-7, called for about $6 billion in new spending. Meanwhile, the minority report, on which the vote was 6-6, with 3 members abstaining, did not specify a dollar amount and recommended revisions to the funding formula. It’s worth noting that since the beginning of the lawsuit challenging Pa.’s system of education funding, total revenue for Pa. school districts has grown by $9.6 billion. Spotlight PA reports that Gov. Shapiro supports the majority report, raising the question of whether he will call for a massive tax hike in his upcoming February state budget address. See both reports here.

Pa.’s ‘pandemic fiscal Band-Aid falling off’

The Center Square reports that “[t]he Pew Research Center said earlier this week Pennsylvania is among the most populous states with a glaring structural budget problem, thanks in part to waning COVID-19 federal support.” Matthew Knittel, executive director of the state’s Independent Fiscal Office confirmed the state will face a budget shortfall of about $0.7 billion this coming year. What’s more, the IFO predicts the structural budget deficit could top $4 billion by 2028. Knittel said, “The only way to address structural deficits is to cut spending or raise taxes, or both.”

Keefer announces state Senate run

GOP state Rep. Dawn Keefer (York County) officially announced her candidacy for the state Senate seat being vacated by fellow Republican Mike Regan, who is not running for re-election. “Pennsylvania is ripe with opportunity, but the state’s economic policies too often undermine those opportunities, driving away businesses and the talent they attract,” Keefer said. “I am running for the State Senate because there is much more to be done, and I want to use my experience to ensure Pennsylvania becomes the best place to live, work and raise a family.” Keefer is the first Republican to announce a run for the seat.

Dem state senator retiring, endorses Dem rep. for his seat

Democrat state Sen. Jim Brewster (Allegheny County) announced yesterday that he will not seek re-election. Allegheny Co. Democrat State Rep. Nick Pisciottano wasted no time announcing his candidacy for the seat—with Brewster’s endorsement, along with multiple other endorsements. County GOP Chair Sam DeMarco said, “It is clear based on today’s announcement that Nick Pisciottano has been sitting in the back rooms for months preparing for this run while keeping the rest of the Mon Valley in the dark about the future of Senator Brewster. How else could he announce dozens of endorsements from across the state simultaneously to Senator Brewster’s retirement announcement.”

Women in the crosshairs (politically speaking)

The liberal super PAC American Bridge 21st Century plans to spend $140 million this election year, with much of it focused on targeting women in swing states, including Pennsylvania. And, not surprisingly, the message will focus on abortion.

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