News & Brews January 26, 2024

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Shapiro to pitch higher ed reform

The Inquirer reports that today, Gov. Josh Shapiro will “announce a blueprint for changing how Pennsylvania handles state-funded higher education.” Included in the plan is ”creating a performance-based funding formula that rewards public and state-related colleges and universities, such as Temple and Lincoln Universities, for achieving outcomes that benefit Pennsylvania.” This is a bit ironic, as when it comes to K-12 education, Democrats have long opposed basing funding increases on outcomes. Shapiro’s plan also includes tuition differences depending on income and gov’t spending increases. We’ll see how lawmakers respond—as the legislature “would need to agree to end its control over higher-education funding, which occurs with every annual budget and requires a two-thirds vote by lawmakers.”

Lawmakers challenge voting registration rules in court

The AP reports that 24 state Republican lawmakers in Pa. have filed a lawsuit “challenging three voting-related executive branch actions … including a 2021 executive order by President Joe Biden.” Specifically, the suit challenges: 1) “the legality of a 2021 executive order by Biden that orders federal agencies to consider ways to expand access to registering to vote and information about voting;” 2) Gov. Shapiro’s executive order implementing automatic voter registration; and 3) former Gov. Tom Wolf’s order saying “that counties cannot reject a voter registration application solely on the basis of finding that the applicant submitted a driver’s license number or Social Security number digits that don’t match what is in a government agency database.” (CNHI news also has a story with some added details.)

Union membership drops to new low

Our friends at the Committee to Unleash Prosperity share that new data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics “show that the percentage of workers who belong to unions in the U.S. hit a record low of 10% in 2023. That’s down by half from 40 years ago, in 1983 when 1 in 5 workers were union members. But the even bigger story in union membership is that private-sector unions are disappearing. … Today, private-sector union membership has tumbled to only 6.0 percent of the workforce. ALL the remaining union power is in the government worker unions. Today 32.5% of public sector workers are in unions.”

Survey: School choice is ‘new normal’

A survey earlier this month of 2,595 parents across the U.S. underscored that school choice is here to stay. The survey, conducted by the National School Choice Awareness Foundation, found “that in a post-pandemic world, U.S. parents increasingly see school choice as a ‘new normal.’” Indeed, “72% considered new schools for their children last year compared to 52% in 2022. That’s a 35% relative increase.”

Abortion in Pa. What’s the law say? 

Spotlight PA gives a primer on current abortion law in Pa. and on various efforts by lawmakers to change the law. Pro-abortion activists, for example, hope to require taxpayers to fund abortions via the state budget. Meanwhile, Democrat Gov. Josh Shapiro recently cut funding for support services for women who choose to consider options other than abortion, and Democrat lawmakers also have proposed removing health and safety standards for abortion clinics that were implemented in response to the murder conviction of an abortion provider in Pa. whom a grand jury described as a “butcher of women.”

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