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How Pa. has (and hasn't) spent $7.3B in COVID aid

Plus, the latest numbers from Pa.'s Medicaid purge.

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

Tuesday, June 27, 2023
Stimulus spending, nominee votes, Medicaid purge, broadband billion, abortion access, negligible impact, and Kutztown's running of the bull.

Pennsylvania received $7.3 billion in state and local pandemic relief funding from the American Rescue Plan Act and spent nearly $5.6 billion as of March — the vast majority, roughly $4.6 billion, to replace lost revenue.

Using stimulus money to replace lost revenue is common, Marquette University political science professor Philip Rocco said, but the amount Pennsylvania has used for that purpose (76%) is exceptionally high.

Read Spotlight PA's full report: How Pennsylvania has (and hasn’t) spent billions of COVID-19 stimulus dollars (FULL LIST).

THE CONTEXT: All funds must be allocated by 2024 and spent by 2026. Any money that remains unused will be returned to the federal government.

Pennsylvania's legislature has appropriated how all $7.3 billion should be spent generally, but it has not assigned every dollar a specific purpose.

There’s hundreds of millions in stimulus money that lawmakers appropriated for a broad purpose — from biotechnology research to transfers to existing grant programs — that’s still waiting for action.


"Almost immediately upon beginning his employment at Penn State, defendants pressured DePiero to conform to their political viewpoints."

An excerpt from a lawsuit filed by now-former Penn State University system professor Zack K. DePiero alleging reverse discrimination
» WATCH: A free panel on Pa.’s 2023 budget process, via Spotlight PA

» Pa. House GOP ties up university funding, via The Inquirer (paywall)

» Pa. House passes medical debt relief bill, via @StephenJ_Caruso

» Pa. senator condemns shooting target threat, via @AumentForSenate

» National Guard says wind farm plan a safety threat, via Times Observer

» Bill would target porch pirates in Pa. with new statute, via KDKA-TV
Investigative journalism that gets results. Spotlight PA's vital work depends on you. Donate now.

Marsh Creek State Park, via @mar_sees_life. Send us your photos by email, use #PAGems on Instagram, or tag us @spotlightpennsylvania.

A closeup of small flowers in a field of golden grass below a blue sky.
Today's top news story in Pennsylvania.CABINET PICKS: A state Senate committee on Monday advanced the nomination of former Philadelphia official Al Schmidt to be Pennsylvania's next Secretary of State, a key election oversight role. The only no vote was from state Sen. Doug Mastriano (R., Franklin), who said "Philadelphia is not a golden gem of voting integrity" before citing well-worn and disproven 2020 election conspiracy theories. 
  • RELATED: Shapiro's education secretary pick confirmed by state Senate amid school voucher controversy, via CNHI
Today's second top news story in Pennsylvania.MEDICAID CUTS: So far roughly 20% of Pennsylvanians who had to renew their Medicaid coverage following the sunsetting of a pandemic-era continuous enrollment policy have lost it, WESA reports. Most failed to qualify under reinstated income limits, while more than 40,000 people — or just under half — were cut for procedural reasons.

Today's third top news story in Pennsylvania.INTERNET MONEY: President Joe Biden announced nearly $1.2 billion for the expansion of high-speed internet in Pennsylvania on Monday, City & State reports. The funds, part of a push to bridge tech divides, will be distributed by the Pennsylvania Broadband Development Authority, which hosts public meetings statewide this summer.

Today's fourth top news story in Pennsylvania.ABORTION PROVIDERS: About 20 states allow nonphysician health workers to offer some abortion care, and Pennsylvania isn't one of them. WHYY reports nurses, physician assistants, and certified nurse midwives across the commonwealth want that to change, especially with more demand following the overturning of Roe v. Wade.

Today's fifth top news story in Pennsylvania.PROMISES MADE: Like so many heavily subsidized projects in Pennsylvania, Shell's sprawling, $6 billion petrochemical and plastics plant in Beaver County promised significant economic benefits to the surrounding area, but Environmental Health News reports a study by a progressive think tank has found the opposite to be true.
Support vital journalism for Pennsylvania. The future of local news is in your hands. Donate now.

SCAM ALERT: State Attorney General Michelle Henry is warning of a scam by a Board of Pardons imposter targeting families of imprisoned people and promising early release for their loved one in exchange for payment.

'EPIC FAIL': How did Pennsylvania's first-ever online sale of "doe tags" go? Not great according to the hunters who described it as an "epic fail," "horrible process," and "absolute disaster," per PennLive.

STATUE SHOWDOWNS: City Paper explains why Pittsburgh's embattled Christopher Columbus statue looks "weird" these days, "almost like an executioner," while Philly's Columbus statue is back in court.

TESLA CRASH: A Tesla on autopilot slammed into a traffic-control truck on the Pennsylvania Turnpike Friday in Allegheny County. No injuries were reported. On Sunday, a loose horse snarled the roadway.

RAGING BULL: A runaway bull prompted a campus-wide "aggressive cow" warning at Kutztown University in Berks County on Sunday. Video showed the cow advancing through town with authorities in hot pursuit.

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: Ephemeral

Congrats to our daily winners: Mike B., Craig W., Vicki U., Barbara F., Don H., Elaine C., Johnny C., Jon W., Kimberly D., Becky C., Lynne E., Sally B., Joel S., Michael K., Bob C., Susan N.-Z., John F., Dennis M., Dianne K., Carol S., Stacy S., James and Anne B., Tracy S., David W., Elizabeth W., Judith D., Vanessa J., Richard A., Doug W., Tom M., Jerry K., William Z., Laurie L., Wendy A., Dan A., Amy Z., and Kim C.
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