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Child care is costing Pa. families a fortune

Plus, I-95 construction site is must-see TV.

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Your Postmasters: Colin Deppen & Tanisha Thomas

Friday, June 16, 2023
📣 PROGRAMMING NOTE: We're off Monday for Juneteenth, a holiday commemorating the emancipation of enslaved people in the U.S., but we'll be back in your inboxes first thing Tuesday. 
Child care squeeze, Luzerne findings, reparations task force, drought watch, and I-95 livestream memes. Happy weekend, and Happy Father's Day.

Child care costs are eating up a growing share of household incomes in Pennsylvania, Axios reports, leading some parents to exit the workforce.

A report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation released this week says the average cost of center-based daycare in Pennsylvania was $11,346 in 2020-2021, amounting to 10% of a married couple's median income and 35% of the median income for single parents. Experts say single working women, families of color, and immigrants are disproportionately impacted.

The U.S. Department of Labor says inflation has made it worse.

Read Axios Philadelphia's full report on Pa.'s surging child care costs.

THE CONTEXT: On Monday, the state House passed a bill that would expand Pennsylvania's child care tax credit over five years, topping out at $2,500 for one child and $5,000 maximum for two or more, per CNHI.

The bill passed 141-62, with 39 Republicans joining all 102 Democrats in the lower chamber in support. It's headed to the Republican-controlled state Senate with more pushback over the price tag expected.

Staff shortages and daycare closures fueled by the COVID-19 pandemic only heightened issues of affordability and accessibility statewide.

Advocates want the state to do more to raise wages and grow the state's child care workforce, and some criticized Democratic Gov. Josh Shapiro's first-ever budget proposal for not going big enough, WESA reported in March.

Budget talks continue ahead of a June 30 deadline.


"The student loan payment pause has allowed my husband and me to save money for having a baby. As a gay couple, it is much more complicated and expensive to have a biological child ... and make our dream a reality."

Tom D., a high school science teacher from Bensalem, on a pandemic-era student loan payment reprieve that's due to end in October
» Miskin no longer employed by House GOP, via @StephenJ_Caruso

» Shapiro endorses Innamorato for Allegheny Co. exec, via @RyanDeto

» Pa. nursing homes are calling for another budget boost, via ABC27

» GOP lawmakers want "protection" out of DEP's name, via StateImpact

» Pa. lawmakers want surplus police, fire gear for Ukrainians, via WITF

» Pa. plumbing license plan called "coup d'état," via The Center Square
Investigative journalism that gets results. Spotlight PA's vital work depends on you. Donate now.

» HOW HARRISBURG WORKS: Join us Thursday, June 22 at 6 p.m. ET on Zoom for a free panel on Pennsylvania’s 2023 budget, what issues are on the table, and how you can get involved. Register for the event here and submit your questions to events@spotlightpa.org


Another window-gazing robin, this one courtesy of Virginia S. in Walnutport. 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 robin looking through the glass of a window.
Today's top news story in Pennsylvania.ELECTION REPORT: A Luzerne County probe into the paper shortage that marred November voting there turned up no evidence of criminal intent or activity, according to a copy obtained by the Times-Leader. The report links the underlying "catastrophic oversight" to a lack of institutional knowledge in the county's election division. Spotlight PA and Votebeat found a pattern of turnover and trip-ups.

Today's second top news story in Pennsylvania.SYSTEM FOR SALE: WHYY reports Towamencin Township supervisors intend to follow through with the sale of their sewer system, even after residents voted to pass a law that forbids it. "Is ignoring the will of the people the best outcome for Towamencin and its residents?" resident Vanessa Gaynor asked. The Pottstown Mercury (paywall) found a 2016 state law update turbo-charged utility privatization.

Today's third top news story in Pennsylvania.HYDROGEN HUB: Pennsylvania wants a slice of $8 billion in federal funding to build a hydrogen hub, and big incentives hastily signed into law by former Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf continue to roil environmentalists opposed to the project's reliance on polluting fossil fuels. Now, PublicSource reports a state House bill that aims to align the development with decarbonization goals is hitting snags.

Today's fourth top news story in Pennsylvania.REPARATIONS REVIEW: Philadelphia could be the next city to formally explore the possibility of reparations for descendants of enslaved Africans. Billy Penn reports a resolution to form a task force that would "study and develop reparations proposals" was introduced by Council Members Jamie Gauthier and Kendra Brooks Thursday. 

Today's fifth top news story in Pennsylvania.DROUGHT WATCH: A drought watch is in effect across Pennsylvania. The state's Department of Environmental Protection is asking residents to reduce their water consumption, noting this week's rainfall wasn't enough to make up for a dry spring. A drought watch put in place last year lasted for five months in some counties.
Support vital journalism for Pennsylvania. The future of local news is in your hands. Donate now.
🏆 GET QUIZZICAL: Prove your Pennsylvania news prowess with the latest edition of The Great PA News Quiz from Spotlight PA: I-95 disaster, budget fights, wage hike, and a political Hall of Famer.

I-95 LIVESTREAM: The most popular show in Pennsylvania is the livestream of the I-95 rebuild in Philadelphia, which launched Thursday, inspiring a million excellent memes. Here's the day one highlights, in case you missed it.

JUNETEENTH CELEBRATIONS: Looking for ways to commemorate Juneteenth? There are many opportunities to celebrate this weekend including in Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, and many central Pennsylvania counties. 

ANTI-BOOZE: This week marked 100 years since the Pennsylvania legislature refused to appropriate $250,000 for enforcement of the state's anti-booze law, much to the chagrin of prohibitionist Gov. Gifford Pinchot.

BREAKING BARRIERS: Elizabethtown College in Lancaster County is tackling language-related medical barriers with a graduate certificate Spanish program for medical Spanish. Here's why it matters.

SNAKEBIT: Jesse Rothacker of the Forgotten Friend Reptile Sanctuary in Lancaster County wanted to show his YouTube fans how friendly the non-venomous snake he found was. They watched him get bit 50 times.

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: Bandoleer or Banderole

Congrats to our daily winners: Barbara F., Susan N.-Z., Don H., Kimberly D., Jon W., Stacy S., Elaine C., Dan A., Craig W., Dennis M., Tom M., David W., Dianne K., and Kim B.
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