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Inflation eroding Pa. support of key universities

Plus, ex-DEP chief now fracking-focused blogger.

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Thursday, January 4, 2024
Today: School spending, outgoing lawmakers, DuBois development, Methodist fracture, methadone access, ex officio blogger, and butter art.

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Pennsylvania's state legislature sends hundreds of millions of dollars to four state-related universities annually, but a Spotlight PA analysis found that money hasn't kept pace with inflation for more than a decade.

State appropriations are a small part of the annual revenue picture for Penn State, Temple, Pitt, and Lincoln Universities, and the State Higher Education Executive Officers Association says Pennsylvania ranks second to last nationally in public support for higher education per student.

Steve Orbanek, Temple University’s director of communications, told Spotlight PA that since 2020 alone, "inflation has eroded $30.2 million of buying power" because the state has not increased its yearly funding. Penn State receives the largest appropriation but the lowest per-student support.

State spending per student decreased after adjusting for inflation, even with the schools educating fewer Pennsylvania residents each year.

Read Spotlight PA's full report: State funding for Penn State, Pitt, and Temple hasn’t kept pace with inflation, data show.

“It’s an issue that is important to me having defeated Donald Trump over 30 times in court in the last election cycle where he tried to thwart the will of the people of Pennsylvania."

—Democratic Gov. Josh Shapiro on attending President Joe Biden's speech in Valley Forge this weekend to mark three years since the Jan. 6 attack

Delco buck check, via Bill M. Have a Pennsylvania photo to share? Send it to us by email, use #PAGems on Instagram, or tag us @spotlightpennsylvania.

An antlered deer peering down at the photographer from a slight hill in a backyard surrounded by woods.
Today's top news story in Pennsylvania.REGAN TO RETIRE: State Sen. Mike Regan (R., York) will not seek reelection in 2024. Spotlight PA's Stephen Caruso says that brings the count to 10 legislative retirements this session. In other news: State Rep. Danielle Friel Otten (D., Chester) has a primary challenger.
  • RELATED: Constituent services specialist seeking GOP nod for retiring state Rep. Oberlander's Clarion County seat, via PoliticsPA.
Today's second top news story in Pennsylvania.SUPLIZIO FIRED: Newly sworn-in DuBois City Council members this week immediately set about firing Herm Suplizio, the city manager who's been on suspended status since being arrested in a massive corruption case last spring, the Courier Express reports. 

Today's third top news story in Pennsylvania.RELIGIOUS DIVIDE: The Times (paywall) reports the United Methodist Church is being "torn apart" in a national schism over LGBTQ rights. Forty percent of Methodist churches in Western Pennsylvania have already disaffiliated from the denomination, per TribLIVE.
Today's fourth top news story in Pennsylvania.LIQUID CUFFS: As Congress weighs modernizing access to the harm-reduction tool methadone by allowing it to be dispensed in larger quantities at pharmacies, not just clinics, WESA says a Pitt study backs the idea and the removal of so-called "liquid handcuffs."

Today's fifth top news story in Pennsylvania.HESS BLOG: Former head of Pennsylvania's Department of Environmental Protection David Hess is now a blogger whose writings on fracking and the energy industry have become must-reads for activists and policymakers alike, per Inside Climate News.
Support vital journalism for Pennsylvania by donating to Spotlight PA today. The future of local news is in your hands.
IN MEMORIAM: Anne Ratchford Kearns, the longtime occupant of President Joe Biden's former Scranton home, and a frequent Biden family host through the years, died on Christmas Eve at the age of 88, Axios reports.

MARKET RATES: Rent is going up at Harrisburg's Broad Street Market after last year's fire. Vendors will pay nearly twice as much, per PennLive.

IMPROV POLICE: Training for Delaware River Port Authority police officers now includes improv theater, The Inquirer (paywall) reports. 

BUTTER CAM: If you're looking for something to watch at 10 this morning, try the unveiling of this year's Farm Show Butter Sculpture live.

PIG BLANKET: A house fire in Slippery Rock is being blamed on a pet pig that tried to warm itself with some hay by a heat lamp, via WTAE.
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: Conspiratorial

Congrats to our daily winners: Don H., Barbara F., Susan N.-Z., Stacy S., Tracy S., William Z., Alan B., Cosette J., Kim C., Rick W., Richard A., Dennis M., Carol D., Craig E., Elaine C., Bob C., Wendy A., and Jane R.
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