News & Brews February 8, 2024

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Key takeaways from Gov. Shapiro’s budget proposal

If you want to dig beyond the headlines down to what’s actually included in (and missing from) Gov. Josh Shapiro’s budget proposal, then this is for you. The Commonwealth Foundation’s Nathan Benefield—budget whiz extraordinaire—has a solid look at Shapiro’s $48.3 billion budget proposal (a 7.1% increase from last year’s spending). Where would the money come from? What would it mean for taxpayers? And much more. Read more here.

Taxpayer-funded lobbying back in the spotlight

Spotlight PA examines the Pennsylvania Game Commission’s use of “tens of thousands of dollars in public funds” to hire “a lobbying firm run by a former top lawmaker.” It’s a practice that has many good-government advocates reiterating that government entities should not use taxpayer dollars to hire outside lobbyists who then often lobby the government to raise taxes.

Lawmakers press for answers on data loss

PennLive reports that yesterday, state “senators tried to take a deep dive into how the data loss on state government computer servers occurred last month but were only able to ferret out few more details from Gov. Josh Shapiro’s administration…” The Senate hearing followed the recent deletion of data from state servers due to human error. “Despite being asked in several different ways,” the administration “declined to say if the employee was working remotely. They said the employee’s location had no impact on the incident. They declined to say if the employee was involved in helping to recover the data. They wouldn’t disclose the location of their servers…. They also declined to discuss their policy for backing up data, saying only they have ‘regular back ups.’ They also refused to say whether encryption keys are typically stored with the encrypted data.”

Pa. Senate passes resolution on immigration 

The state Senate yesterday voted 28-21 in favor of a resolution supporting Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s efforts to secure the southern border. One Democrat—Sen. Lisa Boscola (Lehigh and Northampton counties)—joined Republicans in backing the resolution. Per Sen. Scott Martin (Lancaster and Berks counties), who sponsored the resolution, “Our citizens would expect us to act and we should have every right to act to protect our citizens. This is so much more than Texas.”

Philly region sees biggest jump in average car insurance cost

The Inquirer reports, “According to Bankrate, the average full-coverage premium costs [for car insurance] in the Philadelphia metro area — which includes Camden and Wilmington — jumped 154% this year. It is the largest increase of any of the 26 metros examined by Bankrate.” Further, “On average, Philly drivers are spending $4,753 on their annual car premium, 5.65% of their household income.” Yikes.

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