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Pa.'s late budget may be wrapped up soon

Plus, some parents are having trouble finding COVID-19 vaccine appointments for kids. 

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Your Postmaster: Spotlight PA Staff
July 5, 2022
Finish line, COVID appointments, prison informants, dropout donation, Amtrak feedback, police probe, and 'vexatious' requesters. Welcome to Tuesday.
After a long holiday weekend, legislative leaders are hopeful they can have a budget package completed this week.

Lawmakers were "close but not finished just yet" as of Monday, a spokesperson for state Senate Democrats told PennLive. A spokesperson for state House Republicans said, "We anticipate being in a position to complete the legislative process of passing the budget and associated legislation in short order."

The spending plan was due June 30. As Spotlight PA recently reported, talks didn't begin in earnest until last week

THE CONTEXT: According to PennLive, the spending plan is expected to be about $3.5 billion more than the current $38.6 billion budget. Such an increase won't require raising taxes but instead will be made possible by higher-than-expected revenues.

Among other expected agreements, per the outlet: The state House and Senate won't be in session today. Instead, both chambers will return Wednesday.

"Face-to-face doesn't make learning better. Figuring out what meets your learners' needs makes it better."

—Dale-Elizabeth Pehrsson — president of PennWest, the newly consolidated state university — on advantages of three schools becoming one.
» LAW & LOOPHOLE: Join us Thursday, July 7 at 6 p.m. ET via Zoom for a free Q&A on the limitations of the state's police misconduct database and a discussion on other police accountability efforts. Register for the event here and submit your questions to events@spotlightpa.org.
An evening of Shakespeare (and lovely views) at Harrisburg's Reservoir Park. Send us your Pennsylvania pics, use #PAGems on Instagram, or tag us @spotlightpennsylvania.
STILL WAITING: Children under 5 are eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine, but that doesn't mean parents can actually find appointments. WHYY spoke to parents frustrated by a lack of mass clinics and the fact that pharmacists can't vaccinate very young children. 

BROKEN SYSTEM: The case of a Philadelphia man who testified in six murder cases — then recanted — exemplifies a broken system without "clear rules or oversight," The Inquirer reports. It's a system that relies on vulnerable people who may give unreliable testimony. 

POLITICAL MONEY: After dropping out of the race for governor and endorsing Bill McSwain, the campaign of Jason Richey received $250,000 from a PAC backing McSwain. According to the Post-Gazette, Richey then reimbursed himself for a $150,000 campaign loan — a move raising questions about the timing. 

TRAIN DELAY: As some organizations jump at the chance to offer feedback about new passenger rail lines, the Lehigh Valley has been relatively silent. An Amtrak spokesperson told Lehigh Valley Live it has yet to hear from groups regarding the Allentown corridor.

PROGRESSIVE PROBE: After the Allegheny County DA's office announced it was investigating a progressive magistrate for unspecified "issues," local law enforcement officials privately expressed support for the probe. The emails obtained by PublicSource have some legal observers concerned about the separation of powers.
TALK TO US: Spotlight PA State College is blazing a new path forward for local news in north-central Pennsylvania, one that’s produced with and for the community. Here are 6 ways you can engage with the team.

SUNSHINE LAW: The legislature is set to consider a number of changes to Pennsylvania's Right-to-Know Law, including one that would allow the Office of Open Records at the behest of a government to declare a person a "vexatious requester."

'STILL SURVIVING': Frank LittleBear, a member of the Northern Plains Cree tribe who lives in York County, has spent the past few decades of his life educating about indigenous culture. "We've had a lot of loss — but we're still here," he told the York Dispatch. 

THAT SUMMER FEELING: In Rehoboth Beach, summer life is basically back to normal, with a crowded boardwalk and most COVID-19 restrictions gone. Still an issue for many businesses there? Staffing, per WHYY. 

'INTERESTING AND FUN': Today I learned that the Planter Nut and Chocolate Company — known for Planters Peanuts — started in Wilkes-Barre. I found this out in a story that contained great quotes including, "We try to celebrate anything interesting and fun here in NEPA."

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.

Friday's answer: Switchbacks

Congrats to our weekly winner: Kimberly D.

Congrats to our daily winners: Ted W., Becky C., Don H., Susan D., btfoos, Lynne E., Vicki U., Kim C., Cindy M., Susan N.-Z., Judith D., Elaine C., Craig W., James B., David W., George S., Dianne K., Starr B., Patricia M., Sharon P., Doris T., Michelle T., Chuck M., Kate P., Marianne A., and Irene R.
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