News & Brews January 15, 2024

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Remembering Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Read his historic “I Have a Dream” speech here.

Some county officials want bigger phone tax hike

The late-passed state budget last year increased phone taxes on Pennsylvanians by 30 cents, but some county officials still aren’t satisfied. They want an even greater tax increase to pay for 9-1-1 services. Spotlight PA reports, “Despite the increase, elected county officials who wanted a boost to $2.30 are disappointed, saying the rate — which landline and cellphone users pay as part of their monthly bill — still isn’t enough.” Senate GOP spokesperson Kate Flessner said the recent increase “represents a solid compromise” that helps 9-1-1 while respecting taxpayers. And she noted, “Discussions are ongoing regarding how to best address the future needs of emergency response before the next fee expiration in 2026.”

Biden ‘tried his hand at retail politics’ in Pa. 

It’s pretty bad when a media outlet that adores the Left says a sitting Democrat president—three years into his term—”tried his hand at retail politics.” But that’s how the AP reported President Biden’s visit to Pa. on Friday. The story notes he “stopp[ed] in a trio of Pennsylvania stores to stress the value of small businesses and talk up his economic record. It was a distinct change from the set speeches that the Democratic president usually gives to highlight his policies about an economy with strong employment but levels of inflation that worry voters.” Meanwhile, Biden is set to return to Pa. today, this time visiting Philadelphia for Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

8 Dems vie for chance to challenge Perry

PennLive reports that Democrats have kicked off a “lively” primary race among eight declared candidates seeking the nomination to run against GOP U.S. Rep. Scott Perry this November. The hopefuls participated in a forum on Saturday, where each sought to convince voters he or she is the best candidate to take on Perry. The Left has targeted Perry in multiple election cycles, to no avail.

Future of Poconos population raises dispute

Pike County Commissioner Matt Osterberg highlights that his county is “the fastest-growing county in the state of Pennsylvania right now…. People are moving here from New York and New Jersey for lower taxes.” But according to the Center for Rural Pennsylvania, Poconos counties like Pike and Wayne will face big population declines by 2050, with Pike seeing a 24.3% drop. GOP Rep. Joe Adams (Wayne & Pike Counties) says the Center’s report doesn’t fully factor in COVID-driven migration.

Op-Ed: No bipartisanship in Ed Funding Commission report

Commonwealth Foundation Vice President and former state Rep. Steve Bloom has an op-ed in PennLive expressing concern that the majority report issued last week by the bipartisan Basic Education Funding Commission lacks bipartisanship. Instead, the commission voted 8-7 for the report, with all “yes” votes coming from Democrats. Steve adds that the report, which calls for more than $5 billion in new education funding, “doesn’t acknowledge the commission’s defined, limited role: review the distribution of Pennsylvania’s basic education funding. The statutory authority is clear: Only the General Assembly, through the annual appropriations process, can determine the level of state funding for basic education. The … [Commission] has no power to impose educational funding levels.”

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