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Pa. budget delay snares $1.1B in state funding

Plus, court rules on state police social media tracking.

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Wednesday, August 23, 2023
Code bills, police surveillance, out-of-state nurses, at capacity, welfare reports, no protection, and your face is your Phillies ticket. Thanks for checking in.

It's been nearly three weeks since Gov. Josh Shapiro signed Pennsylvania’s main state budget legislation into law, but code bills that will enable more than a billion dollars of the total $45.5 billion in spending remain unfinished. 

Supplemental funding for the commonwealth's poorest school districts, $50 million for a popular home repair program, and Pennsylvania's first-ever direct funding for public defenders are among the unfunded initiatives.

This week, state Senate GOP leaders announced they plan to return to Harrisburg on Wednesday, Aug. 30 to try and hammer out code language. The state House hasn’t yet said when it will return to Harrisburg. 

Read Spotlight PA's full report on what's behind the holdup and what's at stake: Home repair grants, poor districts caught up in budget delay.

THE CONTEXT: Beth Rementer, a spokesperson for House Democrats, said talks have been ongoing between the legislature and governor, and while the state House isn’t scheduled to return before Sept. 26, "we are not foreclosing on the possibility that we may return sooner" if a deal is reached.

John Neurohr of PA Schools Work said if supplemental funding isn’t allocated soon, it “will hurt kids … in rural, urban, and suburban communities." A dispute over private school vouchers has stalled related code bill talks.

Spotlight PA's Katie Meyer reports:

For most state programs, the lack of code language isn’t a big deal — they either don’t need it or can continue running using last year’s code language. The roughly $1.1 billion in spending that is stuck in limbo, however, needs code bills because the programs are either new and don't have existing language, or the previous code language that governed their spending must be updated.


“I just want this to be over."

—Transgender tennis coach Sasha Yates on the Gettysburg Area School Board postponing a decision on the renewal of her contract amid what PennLive (paywall) calls an "outpouring of public concern"
Support Spotlight PA's investigative journalism for Pennsylvania.
» Shapiro New Hampshire visit stokes 2028 rumors, via NBC News
» Pa.'s Yass spends big on Ky. governor's race, via Kentucky Lantern
» Group touts $10M for 'school choice' candidates, via @StephenJ_Caruso
» Hispanic Republicans vie to oust Dems in diverse districts, via Roll Call
» Big money, labor central to broadband buildout in Pa., via CNHI
Praying mantis on a pepper plant, via Claire G. in Oreland. Have a photo you want to share with the whole state? Send it to us by email, use #PAGems on Instagram, or tag us @spotlightpennsylvania.
A praying mantis bug is seen on the side of a thin pepper.
Today's top news story in Pennsylvania.APP TRACKERS: Pennsylvania’s highest court on Tuesday said state police must reveal details of their social media monitoring, the AP reports. The ACLU warned that other law enforcement agencies have already used social media to track First Amendment activities.

Today's second top news story in Pennsylvania.FRONTLINE WORK: Amid a lingering shortage, nurses from other states will be able to practice in Pennsylvania starting next month, as the commonwealth begins to implement an interstate licensing compact signed into law years ago. The holdup was costly for some.
Today's third top news story in Pennsylvania.
HIGH DEMAND: Erie has closed applications for its corner of the state's Whole-Home Repairs Program due to "overwhelming" demand, via Erie News Now. Spotlight PA reported in June that interest in the home improvement grants was high as several counties opted out.
Today's fourth top news story in Pennsylvania.CHILD WELFARE: New data show a pandemic decline in child abuse reports in Pennsylvania is reversing with children back in schools, which are a primary source of reports. Meanwhile, child welfare agencies in several counties are sounding staffing alarms.

Today's fifth top news story in Pennsylvania.COURT ORDERS: Brenda Bowersox of York County was killed by her estranged husband after a judge refused to issue a permanent protection from abuse order in her case. York Dispatch (paywall) reports police are taking more guns under PFA orders there, but gaps remain.
Support Spotlight PA's investigative journalism for Pennsylvania.
IVY LEAGUE LOAN: The Daily Pennsylvanian reports U Penn issued a $3.7 million, extremely low-interest home loan to then-President Amy Gutmann at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, noting "it appears to rival the largest-ever loan issued to a college administrator in the Ivy League."

FELONY CHARGES: The former CEO of companies founded by members of the York-based rock band Live is now charged with stealing millions from one such venture, York Daily Record (paywall) reports.

LIFE SENTENCE: Pittsburgh-area dentist Larry Rudolph has been sentenced to life in prison for killing his wife on a Zambian getaway.

HOME OWNERS: LNP (paywall) reports a whopping 67% of millennials own their homes in Lancaster County, well above the national rate.

EXPRESS LANE: The Philadelphia Phillies are now letting fans into home games using facial recognition technology, FOX29 reports. 
Unscramble and send your answer to scrambler@spotlightpa.org. We'll shout out winners here, and one each week will get some Spotlight PA swag. Answers submitted by 5:30 p.m. on issue date will be counted.

Yesterday's answer: Platitudes or stipulated

Congrats to our daily winners: Stacy S., Brooke S., Jon W., Jill M., Judith D., Kimberly D., Kim C., Barbara F., Don H., John E., Eric F., Elaine C., Susan N.-Z., Tom M., David W., Vicki U., Wendy A., Dan A., Dennis M., and William Z.
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