Did you know Spotlight PA is a nonprofit? Learn more about our nonpartisan journalism »
Skip to main content
Main content

Our 2023 year in review (and a special request)

From Shapiro's first year to major court rulings, we recap the biggest news of this year.

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: Spotlight PA Staff

Tuesday, December 26, 2023

For us at Spotlight PA, 2023 went by in the blink of an eye — yet so much happened in our state. Hundreds of stories told by our reporters, causing real and lasting change that would have never happened if not for Spotlight PA.

That's journalism that gets results.

Below we recap the biggest stories from 2023. But first, we really need your help. We're in the final 5 days of our year-end member drive, the most important of the year to ensure our unique and vital work can continue.

We need to raise $15,000 more to hit our goal. Make a tax-deductible, year-end gift now so this work can continue. Your contribution now will also lock in a special DOUBLE match, but hurry, it expires at midnight Sunday.

Support Spotlight PA's independent, nonpartisan journalism and for a limited time, your gift will be DOUBLED.
You won't find vital investigative and public-service journalism like that produced by Spotlight PA anywhere else. But that work cannot continue without you — and we only have 5 more days to hit our goal.

Thank you to the 1,499 people who have given so far during our year-end drive, including William W., who said, "You do great work: insightful, topical, and factual!"

Join William & make a tax-deductible gift now »

You can also give via PayPal or Venmo, or send a check to: Spotlight PA, PO Box 11728, Harrisburg, PA 17108-1728.
The News Never Looked So Good

Get exclusive Spotlight PA apparel and accessories now on sale, including the return of our famous tote bag! Shop now »

All proceeds benefit Spotlight PA's nonprofit, nonpartisan journalism.

A jolly scene at American Treasure Tour in Oaks, via @lora_explores. Have a Pennsylvania photo to share? Send us photos by email, use #PAGems on Instagram, or tag us @spotlightpennsylvania.


Shapiro’s first year

Democrat Josh Shapiro took control of Pennsylvania’s executive branch in January, promising to reach across the aisle.

In 2023, he won praise as a literal bridge builder, signed a state spending plan that included long-sought Democratic priorities, and helped expand a relief program for older homeowners.

But he also struggled at times to navigate Pennsylvania’s divided legislature, earning the ire of state Senate Republicans after he vetoed a private school voucher program he supports to appease members of his party.  

His first year was also marked by scandal when one of his top aides was accused of sexual harassment. Shapiro’s office quietly paid $295,000 to settle the allegation and required both sides to sign confidentiality clauses. 

Read more about Shapiro’s first year in office.

Democrats take control of state House

For the first time in more than a decade, Democrats were in control of the state House and its agenda. The party’s one-seat majority was almost immediately compromised because of several vacancies. This led to a rocky start to the session and a surprise (and very temporary) compromise speaker.

The Democratic caucus advanced several of its priorities including stricter gun regulations, a minimum wage increase, and LGBTQ nondiscrimination protections — though none of these bills were taken up by the Republican-controlled state Senate. 

But it also experienced the resignation of a Democratic lawmaker accused of sexual harassment. 

Read more about the Pennsylvania legislature’s 2023.

Major court rulings on education, the environment

In February, Commonwealth Court ruled that Pennsylvania’s formula for funding public education is unconstitutional and harms poorer school districts. The long-awaited ruling did not prescribe a solution for the issue, but some stakeholders believe the state may need to invest billions more to close the gap. 

State lawmakers are holding hearings to explore what to do next. The hard work will begin in early 2024 when a committee studying the issue releases a report

Commonwealth Court made another major ruling in November when it struck down a key climate change program. The Shapiro administration is fighting that ruling — not because it supports the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, but to defend executive power. 

Abortion proves a winning issue in November

Democrats swept the November elections for appellate court positions, apparently buoyed by voter fears that abortion access will be curtailed in the commonwealth. 

Groups that support abortion access backed the Democratic candidate for state Supreme Court and framed the race as a must-win in a post-Roe v. Wade world. Political observers also called the race a litmus test for how this issue will drive voters in 2024.

The high court race also broke spending records, with at least $22 million spent to influence the race’s outcome. 

>> More major stories from 2023:

Support Spotlight PA's investigative journalism and for a limited time, your gift will be DOUBLED.
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.

Friday's answer: Melismatic

Congrats to our daily winners: Don H., Susan N.-Z., Richard A., Jon W., Kimberly D., Barbara F., Elaine C., Stacy S., Bob C., Alan B., Tracy S., Dennis M., Kimberly S., Daniel A., Wendy A., Jeffrey F., Kim C., Craig E., and Tom M.  
Like PA Post? Share it with a friend.

Love PA Post? Support it with a tax-deductible gift.

Forwarded this newsletter? Subscribe here.
Spotlight PA is an independent, nonpartisan & nonprofit newsroom producing investigative and public-service journalism that holds the powerful to account and drives positive change in Pennsylvania.

For sponsorship inquiries, email membership@spotlightpa.org.

Copyright © Spotlight PA, All rights reserved.

Spotlight PA
PO Box 11728
Harrisburg, PA 17108-1728


You're receiving this email because you subscribed to PA Post, a daily newsletter by Spotlight PA.

This email was sent to: <<Email Address>>

Receiving too many emails from Spotlight PA?

To change your newsletter subscriptions and frequency, you can update your preferences.

To stop receiving fundraising messages, you can update your preferences and select "Opt out of Fundraising."

To stop receiving ALL EMAILS from Spotlight PA, including all of our investigations and newsletters, you can completely unsubscribe here.