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Dems dismayed by Shapiro's school voucher support

Plus, why Sen. Casey is worried about Pa. nursing homes.

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Friday, June 23, 2023
Dems dismayed, year after Roe, death penalty, chaotic response, staff crisis, drying I-95, and 'the fastest pig alive.' Enjoy your weekend.

Gov. Josh Shapiro’s administration has reiterated his support for using public dollars to create tuition vouchers so K-12 students can attend private schools, much to the dismay of many of his fellow Democrats.

The issue has extra weight this budget cycle thanks to a February Commonwealth Court ruling that found Pennsylvania’s school funding system is inequitable and must be overhauled.

Read Spotlight PA's full report: Pa. Gov. Josh Shapiro affirms support for funding private school vouchers amid budget push.

THE CONTEXT: As Pennsylvania’s June 30 budget deadline approaches, supporters of private school vouchers hope to wrap a related measure into a bigger spending deal between Shapiro and the legislature. 

Republicans and some Democrats who support the tuition vouchers believe they help the struggling school districts they represent and give affected parents more control over their kids' education.

But many Democrats, and powerful union interests, oppose vouchers completely, arguing that the approach weakens public schools.

In Pennsylvania, one prominent voucher scheme is known as the lifeline scholarship program. A bill reintroduced last week would require districts with schools categorized as “low-achieving” to annually notify families that their kids qualify for lifeline scholarships, which are financed with state money and awarded to eligible children on a first-come-first-served basis.

The state has never before directly given families money for private school.


"This would be about the stupidest way to try to criminally influence an election."

—Luzerne County DA Sam Sanguedolce on the findings of his probe into a midterm ballot paper shortage seized upon by conspiracy theorists
» Panel holds hearing on opening Pa.'s closed primary, via Capital-Star

» Sen. Fetterman’s bill would free money to fix Pa. streets, via PennLive

» Pa. House lawmakers pass bill offering $10K to new teachers, via AP

» Maternal mortality report bill heads to guv, via @StephenJ_Caruso

» Al Schmidt could be confirmed by default, via @ByCarterWalker
Investigative journalism that gets results. Spotlight PA's vital work depends on you. Donate now.

Boulder Field at Hickory Run State Park, via Don H., who offers this advice: "Tick Spray is highly recommended! And leave the dogs at home!" Have a photo you'd like to share with the whole state? Send it to us by email, use #PAGems on Instagram, or tag us @spotlightpennsylvania.

A person in yellow crossing a large field of boulders.
Today's top news story in Pennsylvania.POST-ROE: Tomorrow marks one year since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, a decision that made Pennsylvania a destination for people from other states that moved quickly after the ruling to adopt new limitations. PublicSource examined the out-of-state influx in Pittsburgh, where further uncertainty is expected

Today's second top news story in Pennsylvania.PENALTY PHASE: The trial of convicted Tree of Life synagogue gunman Robert Bowers moves into the penalty phase on Monday. Bowers is facing death after being found guilty on 63 federal counts. TribLIVE reports the next phase will feature evidence from the defense about his upbringing and mental health as they look to spare his life.
  • RELATED: Most of the victims' families in the Tree of Life shooting case want the death penalty for gunman, via TribLIVE
Today's third top news story in Pennsylvania.OPEN HEARING: A two-day public hearing in East Palestine, Ohio, started Thursday with a focus on the emergency response to the February derailment there and the burnoff of toxic chemicals that followed. Day one outlined a chaotic emergency response fraught with poor communication and few good options.
  • RELATED: A train safety bill inspired by the East Palestine derailment faces tough odds in the Pa. legislature, via Spotlight PA
Today's fourth top news story in Pennsylvania.UNDERSTAFFED: Agencies tasked with inspecting U.S. nursing homes are chronically understaffed, and in Pennsylvania officials have taken to hiring retired inspectors on a limited capacity to fill in the gaps. After a year investigating the problem, U.S. Sen. Bob Casey (D., Pa.) tells The Inquirer (paywall) he has grave concerns

Today's fifth top news story in Pennsylvania.I-95 JET DRY: With a collapsed portion of I-95 in Philadelphia now set to reopen today at noon, and 12 hours of dry weather needed to complete the paving and striping process, Gov. Shapiro announced Thursday that he had enlisted the help of a Poconos Raceway jet dryer to ensure the road can stay dry enough for the finishing touches.
Support vital journalism for Pennsylvania. The future of local news is in your hands. Donate now.

CRITTER SAFETY: Pennsylvania leads the nation in animal collisions and had 156,176 reported claims last year. PennLive (paywall) reports state lawmakers have cleared a study of how more wildlife crossings might help.

PRICE HIKE: Admission costs will look a little different at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, which recently increased ticket prices from $25 to $30 to alleviate the financial impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

FREE MUSEUMS: Looking for a Philadelphia museum to visit for free? NBC10 has your "Wawa Welcome America's Free Museum Days" schedule.

FAST PIG: Hamilton the Pig eluded police in Manheim Township, Lancaster County, for days, earning him the nickname: "The fastest pig alive."

17 FEET: Godshall's Quality Meats in Lebanon has broken a Guinness World Record for, you guessed it, the world's longest slab of turkey bacon 

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: Obliterated

Congrats to our daily winners: William Z., Elizabeth W., Michael H., Tom M., Bob C., Vanessa J., Eric F., Joel S., James B., Dennis M., Dan A., Kim C., Julie K., Doug W., Dianne K., Ted W., Lynne E., Elaine C., Jon W., Susan N.-Z., Becky C., Don H., Kathy B., Stacy S., Craig W., Vicki U., and Barbara F.
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