News & Brews June 4, 2024

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Lawmakers return to Harrisburg for budget month 

The AP reports that lawmakers are back in session “to begin a four-week countdown to the start of the state’s next fiscal year, with Democratic Gov. Josh Shapiro and Republican lawmakers offering competing visions for how to use a massive surplus.” While Shapiro wants to “rely on about $3 billion in reserve cash” to fund new recurring spending, Republicans “said the governor’s proposal would put the state on course to drain a $14 billion surplus within a few years before they passed their own $3 billion tax-cutting plan, which Democrats said would have a similar effect.”

Tax cut press conference this morning 

Speaking of the state budget, House Republican lawmakers will hold a news conference this morning at 9:00 a.m. to call for the passage of tax cuts for Pennsylvania families and small businesses. The presser will focus on legislation recently passed by the state Senate, with strong bipartisan and veto-proof support, that would reduce the state’s personal income tax rate from 3.07% to 2.8% and eliminate the gross receipts tax on electricity. Watch the press conference at 9:00 a.m. here.

Debunking myths on public cyber charter schools

We often hear lawmakers talk about charter school “reform.” But in an eye-opening piece at, Reese Flurie, Board President of the Pennsylvania Coalition of Public Charter Schools, exposes multiple myths that Democrat state Rep. Joe Ciresi (Montgomery County) is perpetuating under the guise of transparency for cyber charter schools. “While Rep. Ciresi is free to oppose and advocate against public cyber charter schools and the 60,000 students they educate and their families,” Flurie writes, “he cannot be allowed to sway public opinion through misstatements and false information.”

Game Commission cash stash draws questions 

At a hearing yesterday of the House Game and Fisheries Committee, lawmakers took aim at the state Game Commission for its handling of more than $500 million that it’s sitting on. “Royalties from oil and gas leases connected to the 1,064 wells on state game lands have generated most of the more than $504 million sitting in the Game Fund,” PennLive reports. A 2019 “audit highlighted concerns over the commission’s lax handling of royalty payments from energy companies as well as uncertainty as to whether the royalties it is receiving are accurate, which sparked several questions from lawmakers.”

‘Wait is on’ for court rulings in GOP primary  

The Luzerne County Republican House primary race between incumbent state Rep. Mike Cabell and challenger Jamie Walsh is still (yes, still) undecided. The Times Leader reports that all court briefs have been filed in the legal cases challenging certain mail-in and provisional ballots. And now, the “wait is on” for the Commonwealth Court to rule.

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