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Pa. home to nation’s worst grocery store inflation

Plus, late-night budget deals.

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The logo of PA Post, a free daily newsletter delivering the top news from across Pennsylvania every day.

A daily newsletter by The logo of Spotlight PA, an independent, nonpartisan newsroom producing investigative journalism for Pennsylvania.
Your Postmaster: Colin Deppen

Thursday, December 14, 2023
In today's edition: Grocery gouge, school money, 'zombie' deer, water fouls, and 'the coolest building in state government.' Thanks for checking in. 

ConsumerAffairs says Pennsylvania is the hardest hit state in the nation when it comes to inflation at the grocery store.

Inflation is cooling overall, but it remains a potent force in the early stages of the 2024 election and in critical states like this one.

The Federal Reserve on Wednesday left interest rates — a form of inflation control — unchanged but hinted at three cuts in the new year.

THE CONTEXT: ConsumerAffairs analyzed grocery price data in 15 categories across 150,000 U.S. stores and found prices up 5.3% in the past year.

Pennsylvania saw an 8.2% increase in grocery prices over the past 12 months, while the state with the lowest bump, Colorado, saw a 2.9% hike. 

The reasons for the disparities between locations vary and include retailers charging more when and where they can. Case in point: grocery prices in rural areas, where competition is scarcer, ran 7.6% higher in the past 12 months, compared with only 5.6% for residents of large cities.

But cities are feeling it too, with similar inconsistencies. For example: In Philadelphia, the price of ConsumerAffairs' 15-category basket increased by 7.1% over the past 12 months (that's the highest in the country). In Richmond, Virginia, 250 miles away, the cost is up just 2.3% in that same time.

Read more: 

  • Pennsylvania food stamp enrollment hit record high this summer, likely driven by policy changes and inflation, via WESA archives
  • Demand at Pennsylvania food banks and pantries has reached ‘catastrophic’ levels, via PennLive
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"This official inquiry will empower the House’s relevant committees to investigate these allegations free from Biden Administration obstruction."

U.S. Rep. Guy Reschenthaler (R., Pa.) on Wednesday's party-line House vote in favor of formalizing an impeachment inquiry into President Joe Biden; all Pa. Republicans voted yes; all Pa. Democrats voted no (see here)
Support Spotlight PA's independent, nonpartisan journalism and for a limited time, your gift will be DOUBLED.
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» BOILO BASICS: Join us TONIGHT from 6-7:15 p.m. on Zoom for a free Q&A and demo on one of Pennsylvania's signature adult beverages, boilo. As a bonus, try your hand at some Pennsylvania wintertime trivia in the last half hour for a chance to win Spotlight PA swag. Register for the event here and submit your questions to events@spotlightpa.org.

Reindeer decorations at Tyler Arboretum in Delaware County, via Don N. Have a Pennsylvania photo to share? Send it to us by email, use #PAGems on Instagram, or tag us @spotlightpennsylvania.

Four reindeer sculptures made out of logs and decorated with leaves ands bows.
Today's top news story in Pennsylvania.BUDGET DEALS: School-funding legislation that sends millions more dollars to subsidize private school tuition (on the heels of a critical report) has been signed into law by Democratic Gov. Josh Shapiro. Lawmakers put the finishing touches on that and other budget-related legislation late Wednesday, ending a months-long dispute over code bills needed to activate key budgetary spending. 
  • RELATED: Shorter school weeks and longer days? Pennsylvania poised to give schools flexibility on minimum requirements, via AP.
  • 'Taylor Swift Era' in Pennsylvania resolution passes House with 6 Dems voting no and 7 GOPers voting yes, via @StephenJ_Caruso.
Today's second top news story in Pennsylvania.CAPITOL BRIEFS: The state has certified the results of last month's election; Cook Political Report has downgraded U.S. Rep. Scott Perry (R., Pa.)'s district from "likely Republican" to "leans Republican";  Democrat and former Philly Controller Alan Butkovitz is out of the state treasurer's race following a heart attack; and the state is closer to green-lighting an expansion of speed cameras in Philly.

Today's third top news story in Pennsylvania.
'ZOMBIE DISEASE': A contagious disease that attacks the nervous system of deer and often leaves the animals with fatal holes in their brain — sometimes called “zombie deer disease” — has prompted new rules for hunters in Pennsylvania in an effort to limit the spread. Spotlight PA reports on how the state is managing chronic wasting disease, which was first detected at at a captive deer facility in Adams County. 
Today's fourth top news story in Pennsylvania.DIRTY WATER: Public Herald spoke with employees of a company with facilities in Lycoming and Bradford Counties where radioactive fracking wastewater is cleaned — often incompletely — before it's discharged into rivers. The workers involved in the treatment process describe strange health effects and nonexistent safety controls. Public Herald says negligent oversight is common at such facilities statewide.

Today's fifth top news story in Pennsylvania.STUDENTS BARRED: Earlier this year we told you about a Pennsylvania law that has led to some homeless students being turned away by schools investigating their residency claims — in some cases hiring private investigators or police to rebut them. Now, the Center for Public Integrity reports a bill is on the move in Harrisburg that would reverse the law and prevent lockouts during residency disputes.
Support Spotlight PA's investigative journalism for Pennsylvania and for a limited time, your gift will be DOUBLED.
STORAGE SPACE: PennLive reports the "coolest building in state government" is now open in Harrisburg. The new State Archives building is 146,000-square-feet and cost $75 million.

PICK-ME-UP: The Pennsylvania Department of Education has a new, automated hotline where you can hear pep talks, jokes, and words of encouragement from Pennsylvania students. Dial (717) 772-4737.

TRANS IN PA: Roughly 16% of America's transgender population lives in rural areas. The Inquirer (paywall) shares the experiences of Billie Jean Williams and Stephanie Fritsch at home in rural Wiconisco, Pennsylvania.

IN MEMORIAM: Here's how Erie News Now remembered anchor and 19-year colleague Emily Matson following her sudden death on Monday. Matson was fatally struck by a train. She was 42 years old.

PARK IDEAS: WPSU reports whitewater recreation parks could be coming to Clearfield County, and would replace two low-head dams. In unrelated news: WHYY reports on the fight brewing over a Chester County campsite
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.

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