News & Brews May 8, 2024

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House GOP wants AG to investigate Philly DA over arrest warrant

Yesterday, House Republicans called on state Attorney General Michelle Henry to launch an investigation into Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner over the incorrect arrest warrant issued for Democrat state Rep. Kevin Boyle. The arrest warrant was issued about a week before primary Election Day. Democrats were already hoping to oust Boyle in the primary, and the timing of the warrant gave them time to run ads against him based on the warrant. Boyle lost to the Democrats’ hand-picked candidate. Then, one day before the election, Krasner announced the warrant was issued in error and had been withdrawn.

Senate Ed Committee passes Lifeline Scholarships

Yesterday, the Senate Education Committee voted 8-3 to advance legislation (SB795), sponsored by Sen. Judy Ward) that would establish Lifeline Scholarships in Pennsylvania. All Republicans on the committee, as well as Democrat Sen. Anthony Williams (Philadelphia), voted in favor of this bill, which would provide up to $10,000 for education expenses (or up to $15,000 for students with special needs) for students living in low-performing school districts. Thank you to those senators who voted to fund students and not failing systems!

The cost of Shapiro’s budget … address, that is

Gov. Shapiro’s budget production … err, address… took place in the Capitol Rotunda this year, as opposed to the House Chambers (which were still undergoing an interestingly timed repair following a leak). Well, Right-to-Know requests reveal that the cost of using the alternative venue was nearly $41,500, which was paid for by the House and House Democratic Caucus, PennLive reports. Some have pointed out that other venues could have handled the event at a lower cost, but why spend less when you can spend more? (Or something like that.)

Pa. Senate passes tax cut with bipartisan support

Yesterday, the state Senate voted 36-14 to reduce the state’s personal income tax rate from 3.07% to 2.5% and eliminate the gross receipts tax on electricity. Eight Democrats joined all Republicans in supporting the measure, which now heads to the House. The $3 billion tax cut is a counter to Gov. Shapiro’s plan to increase spending by $3 billion, which would lay the groundwork for future tax increases. Democrat leaders opposed to the bill have said the measure will not survive the House, but Republicans have said they’re staking out their position as budget negotiations are set to get underway.

Podcast: Why have teachers’ salaries become stagnant?

Even as education revenue across the nation has increased by 25% since 2002, teachers’ salaries have actually declined by 0.6% (adjusted for inflation). Why is this? Well, a big reason is increases in benefit costs. Indeed, “For every $1 that went to instructional salary spending, $4 went to benefit costs,” primarily retirement benefits, according to Christian Barnard, Assistant Director of Education Reform at the Reason Foundation. What’s more, new education dollars are also being used to hire non-teaching staff, rather than give raises to teachers. Click here to listen to the interview with Christian, or read his article on the topic here.

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