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Penn State offers buyouts in dramatic step

Plus, the cost of Shapiro's budget address.

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Thursday, May 9, 2024
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Today: PSU purse strings, budget divide, speech spending, legislative action, Parker promise, chaplains in schools, and The Office 2.0.
Penn State is offering buyouts to Commonwealth Campus employees, a dramatic step for Pennsylvania’s flagship university as it looks to trim a multimillion-dollar deficit and balance its budget by 2025.

The university did not provide an estimate of the number of eligible employees or how many are likely to accept. A spokesperson said no Commonwealth Campus closures are planned, but “all options are on the table.”
Read Spotlight PA's full report: Penn State offers to pay Commonwealth Campus employees to resign amid budget cuts.
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Today's top news story in Pennsylvania.
TOP PRIORITY: Pennsylvania's new fiscal year starts in July, but while Democratic Gov. Josh Shapiro wants to use cash reserves to boost spending by $3 billion in the next budget, the GOP-led state Senate has advanced a bill that would use the money to cut taxes instead. The AP reports the budget season salvo highlights dissonance on fundamentals and what to do with Pennsylvania's massive surplus.
Today's second top news story in Pennsylvania.
CHANGE OF VENUE: Gov. Shapiro's latest budget address cost taxpayers nearly $500 a minute, PennLive (paywall) reports. The 86-minute February speech, delivered in the Capitol Rotunda for the first time ever, cost $41,500 to pull off. The usual venue, the state House chamber, was closed for repairs at the time, leading to the relocation. But some say other, cheaper options existed.
Today's third top news story in Pennsylvania.
BILL BRIEFS: State Rep. Frank Burns (D., Cambria) joined every Republican member of the state House in voting against two gun reform proposals that failed by a single vote this week; Gov. Shapiro is expected to sign a bill that would let Pennsylvania police pull motorists over simply for using their cellphones while driving; and a parental-consent social media bill has passed the state House.
Today's fourth top news story in Pennsylvania.
KENSINGTON CRACKDOWN: Philadelphia Mayor Cherelle Parker's administration began dismantling Kensington encampments as planned on Wednesday, but The Inquirer (paywall) reports the work started an hour ahead of schedule and was led by police and sanitation workers, not outreach teams as the city had promised.

Today's fifth top news story in Pennsylvania.
SCHOOL CHAPLAINS: State Rep. Dave Zimmerman (R., Lancaster) wants his colleagues to allow chaplains to serve as counselors in public schools, LNP (paywall) reports. A religious activist group, the National School Chaplain Association, played a pivotal role in pushing similar legislation in Texas and Florida, the outlet adds.
STICKER SHOCK: Chester County's plan to spend opioid settlement funds on stickers warning against furnishing alcohol to minors has been disapproved by a state oversight board, Spotlight PA's Ed Mahon reports. 

FAMILY FEUD: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette publisher and editor-in-chief John Block allegedly wants to sell the paper and its parent company, but a lawsuit filed by his twin brother aims to stop him, TribLIVE reports.

STEPPING DOWN: Cumberland Valley School Board Director Brian Drapp is resigning following backlash over 30 Rock actor Maulik Pancholy's canceled and then uncanceled assembly appearance, per FOX 43.

SHAKE SHACK: Pittsburgh's first Shake Shack is set to open May 20 in the Strip District, Pittsburgh Magazine reports. The burger chain has 500 locations worldwide but none in Pennsylvania west of Lancaster.

REMOTE OFFICE: The Office is leaving Pennsylvania. A reboot of the Scranton-set NBC sitcom is coming to streaming service Peacock and will be set at a newspaper in the midwest, Variety reports. 
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