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Town collabs would get big boost in Shapiro budget

Plus, the latest on 2023 primary results.

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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

Thursday, May 18, 2023
Community collabs, Parker's win, Zappala's second chance, school board wars, DA direction, prison investigator, and girls wrestling gets recognized. 

Every local government in Pennsylvania must provide the same level of basic services to taxpayers, a standard that imposes disproportionate financial burdens, especially on smaller municipalities as related costs balloon.

Now, Gov. Josh Shapiro is proposing a 266% funding boost to a state program that pays up to half the cost of eligible projects in which municipalities collaborate to deliver services more efficiently.

Read Spotlight PA's full report: Proposed Pa. budget nearly quadruples funding for local government cooperation.

THE CONTEXT: Pennsylvania contains 67 counties and more than 2,500 townships, boroughs, and cities. These municipalities vary widely in size but must meet the same government service benchmarks.

That burden has led to slow economic growth in many parts of the commonwealth, a 2003 Brookings Institution-backed study found, citing economic disparities and "cutthroat intermunicipal competition."

The Municipal Assistance Program was created to address the dilemma and ensure government-service benchmarks are being met.

Shapiro, a Democrat, wants to boost the program's funding from just over half a million to $2 million, saying the increase would "set the groundwork for the rehabilitation and growth" of Pennsylvania communities.

Support Spotlight PA and for a limited time, all gifts will be DOUBLED.

"You can lose my number a--hole." 

Republican Katie Ford when asked by reporter Pete Hall to comment on her loss in Tuesday's special state House election in Delaware County

POLICING VS. TREATMENT: Join us Thursday, May 25 at 6 p.m. ET for a free panel on how Pa. wants to spend a $1B opioid settlement, the policing versus treatment debate, and the way Pennsylvania's spending plans compare to other states'. Register here and submit questions to events@spotlightpa.org

Sugar Creek in Venango County, via @johnmcculloughphotography. Send us your photos by email, use #PAGems on IG, or tag @spotlightpennsylvania.
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Today's top news story in Pennsylvania.KEY ISSUE: Cherelle Parker's victory in Philadelphia's likely decisive Democratic mayoral primary was powered by Black voters and residents of the neighborhoods hardest hit by the city's gun violence crisis, The Inquirer (paywall) reports. Parker, who is likely to become the city's first woman mayor in November, pledged to crack down on crime and declare a state of emergency over gun violence, per The Trace.

Today's second top news story in Pennsylvania.'HALFTIME' SHOW: Allegheny County DA Stephen A. Zappala Jr. lost Tuesday's Democratic primary to progressive Matt Dugan, but Zappala isn't done campaigning. That's because he likely secured enough Republican write-in votes — with a little help from GOP leaders like former Gov. Tom Corbett — to land a general election spot, one he quickly confirmed he'll accept, calling this "halftime." 

Today's third top news story in Pennsylvania.SCHOOL WARS: GOP-backed school board candidates in Lancaster County who support book bans and policies targeting trans students easily fended off a slate of challengers, including Republicans and cross-filed Democrats, in Tuesday's primary. But Vox says the GOP's national push to "politicize the once-sleepy races" amid CRT- and LGBTQ-inspired backlashes could be failing more broadly.

Today's fourth top news story in Pennsylvania.NO REVIEW: Donald Leeth, the Monroe County DA candidate who promised to launch a fresh probe of the 2020 fatal police shooting of 19-year-old Christian Hall near Stroudsburg, lost Tuesday's Democratic primary to Mike Mancuso, an assistant DA who first declared the shooting justified. Hall's parents wanted a new investigation in light of video of the shooting published by Spotlight PA

Today's fifth top news story in Pennsylvania.OFF THE JOB: Weeks after he was put on paid leave for unknown reasons, Dauphin County Prison's first internal affairs investigator, Kevin Myers, is no longer in the role, PennLive reports. Officials wouldn't say if Myers was fired or resigned. He was hired in February to bring more integrity and independence to investigations into prison staffers' actions amid a spate of deaths and related scrutiny.

RUNOFF BILL: A bill that would require runoffs if a primary candidate wins with less than 50 percent of the vote in Pennsylvania is in the works from Republican state Sens. Ryan Aument (Lancaster) and Frank Farry (Bucks). Spotlight PA's Stephen Caruso offers this read on motives.

PHILLY FIRSTS: Primary results for at-large City Council seats make it likely that Philadelphia will get its first openly LGBTQ lawmaker in Rue Landau, and first South Asian American lawmaker in Nina Ahmad, per Billy Penn.

IDAHO INDICTMENT: The Pennsylvania man accused of fatally stabbing four University of Idaho students last year was secretly indicted by a grand jury this week. Bryan Kohberger is due in court on Monday.

SKIRMISH SITE: The site of a 15-minute skirmish that changed the world and ignited the French and Indian War has been pinpointed in Fayette County. TribLIVE reports a young George Washington played a starring role.

NOW RECOGNIZED: After years of advocacy around the issue, girls wrestling is officially a sanctioned high school sport in Pennsylvania following a unanimous PIAA Board of Directors vote on Wednesday.

Support Spotlight PA's investigative journalism for Pennsylvania 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 6 p.m. on issue date will be counted.

Yesterday's answer: Backbiter

Congrats to our daily winners: Craig W., Jane R., Elaine C., Lynne E., Susan D., Bob C., Vicki U., Don H., Susan N.-Z., Barbara F., Jon W., Stacy S., Carol S., Wendy A., Diane B., Kimberly D., Dennis M., James B., Dianne K., Dan A., Craig E., David W., Perry H., Tom M., John A., Keith W., and Starr B.
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