News & Brews July 8, 2024

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And … still no budget 

Well, one week after the traditional budget deadline, and there’s still no state budget, despite lawmakers’ plans to work over this past weekend to finish it up (which, by the way, didn’t happen). The House and Senate are both expected to return to session today.

‘Biden turns to Pa. to try to save his campaign’

Facing mounting calls from within his own party to drop out of the race following his disastrous debate, President Biden was in Pennsylvania yesterday as part of his effort to salvage his political future. He visited a church in Philly and then headed to Harrisburg for an ice cream social. The church choir greeted Biden with a rendition of “I need you to survive.” So many possible meanings here — will the church not survive without Biden? Does the church really hope Biden survives? Ah, maybe they’re talking about needing Jesus to survive! (Never mind… what am I thinking?) Anyway, it’s ironic that a church can back a Democrat from the pulpit, as the Philly church did, with nary a question from the media, but if a church backs a Republican, media goes nuts over tax status, etc.

Feds want up to 14 years in prison for Johnny Doc

At the sentencing hearing this week for John “Johnny Doc” Dougherty, federal prosecutors will request 11 to 14 years of prison for the former Philly labor leader, as well as more than $2.1 million in payments from Johnny Doc to the union he used to lead. The Inquirer reports that in a sentencing memo filed on Friday, Assistant U.S. Attorney Frank Costello wrote, “Dougherty’s crimes have inflicted immeasurable harm upon Local 98 and the City of Philadelphia. Justice demands that he be held fully accountable for his actions.”

Court orders PLCB to refund millions of dollars 

Last week, the Pa. Supreme Court upheld a lower court ruling that required the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board (PLCB) to refund the $1.75-per-bottle fee it collected for a five-year period for “special orders” that state liquor stores didn’t carry but purchasers were required to pick up at the stores. PennLive reports, “A 2016 state law required PLCB to create a system for direct shipment of special orders by June 2017, but it took the agency until June 2022 to allow wine and liquor producers to deliver directly to bars, restaurants or homes. In the interim, the agency collected a $1.75 fee on each bottle that was first delivered to its locations where it was then picked up by the purchaser.” The total refund amount “could easily top $40 million.”

WSJ: ‘Shapiro’s moment of truth on school choice’

The Wall Street Journal Editorial Board wants Gov. Josh Shapiro to put action behind his claims that he supports school choice. “What does Josh Shapiro really believe about school choice?,” the Ed Board asks. “The Pennsylvania Governor endorsed education vouchers in his 2022 campaign, then killed them in budget negotiations last year. This year he called vouchers ‘unfinished business’ in his February budget address. But is he about to abdicate again?” With the budget still incomplete and school choice a sticking point, Shapiro now appears (again) to be cowering to anti-school-choice unions.

Union staff go on strike against union, at union convention

Talk about irony. As thousands of National Education Association members gathered in Philly last week for the union’s convention, the union’s staff went on strike. The AP reported that “the National Education Association Staff Organization, set up picket lines Friday around the Pennsylvania Convention Center in downtown Philadelphia and had a three-day strike planned at the event. The NEA’s union said it has filed two unfair labor practice complaints over what it says are the NEA’s failure to comply with basic union requirements. It is accusing the NEA of unilaterally removing holiday overtime pay and failing to provide information on outsourcing $50 million in contracts….” The strike prompted President Biden to cancel a speech at the convention to avoid crossing the picket line.

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