News & Brews July 2, 2024

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Senate schedules sessions until Sunday for budget 

WITF reports that as lawmakers continue to negotiate a budget agreement, the state Senate has scheduled session days until Sunday, with one day off for July 4. Meanwhile, the House has scheduled sessions through tomorrow. “The budget has yet to leave the House. Regardless, Senate leaders have expressed belief the budget could come together this week.” Sticking points include education spending increases (which Democrats want with no accountability) and PASS scholarships, which the Senate supports but House Democrat leaders oppose.

Lawmakers want to limit government transparency 

Several state lawmakers—mostly Republicans—are proposing legislation that would limit the number of Right-to-Know requests citizens can submit to local governments. The aim is to stop folks who submit hundreds of requests, which annoy local governments. But as the Pennsylvania NewsMedia Association’s Melissa Melewsky states, “From a legal perspective, anytime we have an agency making subject determinations about who can access records and who can’t, that’s not ideal.” As the ACLU notes, “If a record is public, then it should be available to all members of the public—without exception.” Indeed. New Jersey recently enacted a law that also targets citizens whom the government deems troublesome, much to the (very valid) concern of transparency advocates.

Senate votes to subject school board assoc. to RTK

The state Senate voted 28-22 yesterday in favor of legislation, sponsored by state Republican Sen. Kristin Phillips Hill (York County), that would subject the Pennsylvania School Boards Association (PSBA) to the state’s Right-to-Know law. PennLive reports that PSBA not only participates in the state’s pension system but “taxpayers also subsidize the association’s Social Security reimbursement out of the state budget in the funding for school employees’ Social Security.” One Democrat (Sen. Lindsey Williams of Allegheny County) voted in favor of the bill, while one Republican (Sen. Camera Bartolotta of Washington County) voted against the legislation. The bill now heads to the House.

Casey comes to Biden’s defense

On the heels of Gov. Shapiro’s saying he’s standing by Biden after the debate debacle, Democrat U.S. Sen Bob Casey is also coming to Biden’s defense. The AP reports, “Casey, who is also seeking reelection in November, acknowledged that Biden had a bad debate, but also suggested that voters have bigger concerns.” However, “Casey would not elaborate on why he thinks Biden is fit and said he doesn’t worry that Biden’s debate performance would affect his own race for Senate.”

WSJ: ‘Is Josh Shapiro capable of leadership?’

Wall Street Journal Columnist William McGurn exposes Gov. Shapiro for the hypocrite he’s chosen to be when it comes to school choice. “Mr. Shapiro likes to invoke his motto ‘Get Stuff Done’ (the G-rated version), which emphasizes practical results over ideology,” McGurn writes. “But we’re now in the thick of his second budget battle and he still isn’t getting it done…. On Sunday night, the deadline for a state budget passed without a deal. Just like last year, this means that a proposed voucher program is caught in the crossfire between a friendly Republican Senate and a hostile Democratic House. Mr. Shapiro says he favors school choice, but he is unwilling to lead.”

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