News & Brews May 7, 2024

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Shapiro uses state plane ‘much more’ than Wolf did 

Spotlight PA reports that last year, Pennsylvania taxpayers forked out $410,000 for flights on the state airplane—the highest amount since 2011. And most of those flights carried Gov. Josh Shapiro. “In his first year in office,” the story notes, “Shapiro surpassed Wolf’s busiest air travel year, racking up $270,000 in fuel, maintenance, and personnel expenses during almost 150 hours of flight time in 2023. Wolf used the aircraft most in 2018, the last year of his first term, in which he spent a little more than 77 hours in the air, costing $136,000.” (We recently wrote about one of Shapiro’s flights—down to Hilton Head Island. Check out that op-ed here.)

Map: Pa. party registration changes by county since 2008

”Since 2008, Democrats’ registration edge over Republicans [in Pennsylvania] has steadily shrunk — from a 12% advantage in April 2008 to about a 4% advantage in April 2024,” reports Spotlight PA. The gap is now below 400,000 registered voters, per Department of State data. Spotlight maps out the changes county by county, noting “that while registration trends can signal an electorate’s moods, they can’t tell you everything about how a closely divided state like Pennsylvania will vote.” Per one consultant (and this sentiment is echoed by others), registration is “catching up more with the behavior of the electorate” in terms of how they’ve already been voting.

Philly Dems worry they’re not ready for November

The Inquirer reports that low turnout among Philly’s Democrat voters is “a perennial problem” for the party. But as November approaches, “the turnout challenge for Democrats is compounded by waning enthusiasm for Biden.” Now, “some Philadelphia committeemembers … say they’re concerned about the effectiveness of the party’s turnout operation” as well as the city’s longtime party chair’s plan (or lack thereof) to boost turnout.

Pa. Senate GOP sets ‘marker’ for budget negotiations

PennLive reports that Republicans on the Pa. Senate Rules Committee yesterday approved a measure “that calls for lowering the 3.07% tax rate to 2.8% and eliminating the 140-year-old gross receipts tax on electricity.” All Dems on the committee opposed the measure. Senate Majority Leader Joe Pittman “indicated this is a marker his caucus is putting down for the start of budget negotiations to counter the House Democratic majority and Gov. Josh Shapiro’s calls for new spending thanks to the $14 billion in reserve accounts.” Per Pittman, “There’s been a lot of discussion about $3 billion of additional spending. Our point of view is if we’re going to invest $3 billion, we should invest it back into the taxpayers. We fundamentally believe when you allow taxpayers and consumers of electricity to keep more of what they earn that they [can] best decide how to reinvest that into our economy. We believe lower tax structures help further grow an economy and in this case we would be lifting all boats.”

Op-Ed: Shapiro’s energy plan is ‘formula for expensive electricity’

Even as Pennsylvanians report their energy costs have climbed in recent years, “Gov. Josh Shapiro’s preferred policies practically guarantee increased electricity prices.” So writes Commonwealth Foundation Senior Fellow Gordon Tomb in the Delaware Valley Journal. The governor, he writes, “displays more tenacity than good sense with his recently unleashed bevy of bad policies.” He’s “called for the enactment of Pennsylvania’s version of a carbon tax, and proposed to more than double its mandate for the kind of energy that customers must buy.” These proposals “will hit consumer pocketbooks hard.”

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