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Budget delay means missed human services payments

Plus, a grant for a Pa. LGBT shelter is blocked.

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Monday, July 31, 2023
🏆 QUICK QUIZ: Follow the news last week? Prove it with the seven questions in this edition of The Great PA News Quiz: School funding appeal, public pensions, and a really big sandwich.
Budget consequences, election money, firearm rejections, pay raises, blocked grants, voter disbandment, radio cut, theater struggles, and Pride in July.

Almost a month after Pennsylvania lawmakers failed to meet an annual budget deadline, bills are coming due for education and human services expenses that state officials do not have the power to pay. 

The ongoing budget impasse puts the commonwealth on track to miss major payments in the coming weeks including regularly scheduled disbursements to public schools and to a slew of county-administered services, most notably child welfare programs. 

Read Spotlight PA’s full report: Pa. begins to miss education, human services payments as budget impasse continues.

THE CONTEXT: It is unclear how much longer the budget impasse will last.

Both the state House and Senate have passed the main budget bill, but it lacks a needed signature from the upper chamber. Without the signature, the bill is unable to advance to Democratic Gov. Josh Shapiro’s desk for final approval. 

The state Senate isn’t officially scheduled to return to Harrisburg until mid-September. However, state Senate President Pro Tempore Kim Ward (R., Westmoreland) said in a TV interview taped on July 21 that she plans to reconvene her members sometime in August, which would likely forestall many missed payments.


“Trump would be very competitive in Pennsylvania. But Trump has to perform above his ceiling.”
U.S. Sen. John Fetterman on Donald Trump’s pull with Pennsylvania voters; here’s what general election polling shows; Trump appeared at an Erie rally on Saturday
Support vital journalism for Pennsylvania: The future of local news is in your hands. Donate now to Spotlight PA.
» Democrats nominate Lindsay Powell to fill vacant state House seat left by Sara Innamorato, via WESA.

» The Pennsylvania Department of Insurance considers updating requirements for minimum health benefits plan, via Stephen Caruso.

» Pennsylvania begins reimbursing stolen SNAP benefits, via StateScoop.

» Funding for child ID kits face opposition from Pennsylvania lawmakers, via ProPublica.

» Pennsylvania officials seek public input for broadband access expansion, via Pennsylvania Capital-Star

» How Local Gov't Works: Join us Thursday, Aug. 3 from 6-7:15 p.m. ET on Zoom for a free panel on oversight issues in local governments, how to hold officials accountable, and where you can turn to address issues with municipal services. Register here and submit questions to events@spotlightpa.org


A stunning shot of the Lily of the Valley, via Penny W. Have a photo you'd like to share? Send it to us by email, use #PAGems on Instagram, or tag us @spotlightpennsylvania.

green leaves surrounding little small buds of flowers
Today's top news story in Pennsylvania.ELECTION GRANTSPennsylvania counties that benefitted from $45 million in state funding to cover election costs look forward to reapplying next month, Votebeat and Spotlight PA report. In the lead-up to last November’s election, counties used the funds on expenses like mail ballot sorting machines, rental trucks to transport voting equipment, and poll worker pay. Check out the full breakdown of how counties spent their grants

Today's second top news story in Pennsylvania.DENIED FIREARMSNearly 4,000 people were unable to purchase firearms in the second quarter of 2023 after the Pennsylvania Instant Check System found they were ineligible, ABC27 reports. A bill that would adopt universal background checks and close the so-called “gun show loophole” hasn’t moved in the GOP-led state Senate since passing the Democratic-led state House in April.

Today's third top news story in Pennsylvania.PAY RAISE: A proposed contract would give raises of more than 20% over the next four years to members of one of the state’s largest unions: the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 13. According to PennLive, Gov. Josh Shapiro’s administration has also reached a tentative agreement with Service Employees International Union Local 668. 

Today's fourth top news story in Pennsylvania.GRANT BLOCK: The LGBT Center of Greater Reading’s plan to create a new space to address capacity issues suffered a setback earlier this month, WITF reports. U.S. House Republicans voted on July 18 to block the center from receiving a one-time grant of $970,000 through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Community Project Funding program. According to Gay City News, just three out of more than 3,800 funding projects were targeted

Today's fifth top news story in Pennsylvania.LEAGUE DISBANDMENT:  The Northhampton County League of Women Voters, known for providing nonpartisan voter guides in the Lehigh Valley, is likely disbanding due to declining membership, the Morning Call (paywall) reports. The league president said the chapter is down to 10 members, and another member said it has struggled to attract new members, especially younger ones. 
Investigative journalism that gets results: Spotlight PA's vital work depends on you. Donate now.

SHOW FINALE: WESA’s daily news show The Confluence comes to an end this Friday after a seven-year run. Pittsburgh City Paper reports the radio show’s three full-time staff members will receive severance negotiated through a union bargaining process.

THEATER CRISIS: Philadelphia’s Arden Theatre Company expects to give 363 performances next season, down from 503 performances the season before the pandemic, The New York Times (paywall) reports. The decline is part of a crisis affecting theaters across the country.

JUDGE’S ORDERS: A Chester County judge ordered former Jackass star Bam Margera to stay within the five-county Philadelphia region until his domestic violence case is resolved and to report to rehab, per the Philadelphia Inquirer (paywall).

MOST STREAMED: Pennsylvania is known for producing some of today’s biggest pop stars. WTAJ whipped up a list of the most streamed artists from the commonwealth on Spotify. Can you correctly guess a few off the top of your head?

HARRISBURG PRIDE: Thousands attended Harrisburg’s Pride Festival last weekend, including U.S. Sen. John Fetterman and his wife Gisele Barreto Fetterman. The lawmaker vowed to fight for the LGBTQ community, PennLive (paywall) reports.

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.
Friday's answer: Philanthropic

Congrats to our weekly winner: Jennifer C.

Congrats to our daily winners:  Dan A., Susan N., Tracy S., Jon W., Stacy S., Julie K., Jody A., Barbara F., Starr B., Bob C., Jan K., Eric F., Joel S., Don H., Ted W., William Z., Craig W., John F., Tish M., Elaine C., Dennis M., Becky C., Johnny C., Craig E., Kimberly D., Vicki U., Ada M., Tom M., Judith D., Susan R., Wendy A., Daniel M., Daniel S., and Kim C.
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