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Budget still unfinished 3 months past deadline

Plus, Pennsylvania's United Auto Workers strike.

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Thursday, September 28, 2023
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In today's edition: Budget brief, Kenney veto, strike support, shutdown countdown, early out, green lawns, and mansion for sale. Help us continue this vital work by supporting Spotlight PA & your gift will be DOUBLED.
Pennsylvania's state budget is still unfinished nearly three months past the state's fiscal deadline, Spotlight PA reports. 

State House lawmakers returned to Harrisburg this week for the first time since passing the main $45.5 billion budget bill in July, but both chambers have yet to agree on code bills that would authorize state spending on a number of key programs — and this week produced little, if any, movement.

Read Spotlight PA's full report: Pa. lawmakers are still trying to finish the budget 3 months after the deadline.

THE CONTEXT: The incomplete aspects of the spending plan include fiscal code bills that have hundreds of millions of dollars for the state's poorest schools, student mental health grants, and more in limbo.

The GOP-led state Senate has advanced legislation authorizing spending on some stalled items, but Democrats in both chambers see little of their agenda reflected in those proposals, and after two days in session this week, the state House left without considering any of those state Senate bills. The Democratic majority has also yet to put forth its own legislation. That may change.

Beth Rementer, spokesperson for state House Majority Leader Matt Bradford (D., Montgomery), said talks continue and that if they fail to "bear fruit," "the House stands ready to send a comprehensive fiscal code vehicle to the Senate for their consideration in the coming weeks."

Also stuck in the legislative morass: $640 million in state funding for Lincoln, Penn State, Pitt, and Temple universities. 

"Guarantee that the legislature is gonna be moving a liiiiiiittle bit slower today."

—State Rep. Mike Schlossberg (D., Lehigh) after this week's annual legislative charity softball game yielded images like this (and this)
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» Complete guide to the candidates for Pennsylvania Supreme Court

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» STORY FEST: Spotlight PA is participating in Philly Story Fest, a first-of-its-kind festival that brings together storytellers from across the city on one stage. Join us Thursday, Oct. 5 from 7-10 p.m. at the Bok building in South Philadelphia (1901 South 9th St.). Tickets are $25 and available here.

» PATH TO EQUITY: Join Spotlight PA for its first in-person summit on Wednesday, Oct. 11, from 11:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Whitaker Center in Harrisburg. Spotlight PA is co-presenting this event with Color & Culture, a Pennsylvania marketing firm. Tickets are on sale at this link until sold out.

» ELECTION 101: Join Spotlight PA’s government reporters Kate Huangpu and Stephen Caruso on Thursday, Oct. 12 from 6-7 p.m. ET on Zoom for a free panel on Pa.’s 2023 judicial candidates. Register for the event here and submit your questions to events@spotlightpa.org
The "In Search of Peace" sculpture at the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philly, via @lora_explores. Have a Pennsylvania photo to share? Send it to us by email, use #PAGems on Instagram, or tag us @spotlightpennsylvania.
A multicolored triangular sculpture, reminiscent of stained glass, surrounded by green plants.
Today's top news story in Pennsylvania.VETO POWER: A Philly bill that would ban supervised injection sites in most of the city will be vetoed by Mayor Jim Kenney, who called it “troublingly anti-science and misleading,” via WHYY. The bill is headed back to City Council, where it was first approved. The council is expected to have the votes to override the veto. The body meets at 10 this morning. A separate push aims to ban the sites statewide.

Today's second top news story in Pennsylvania.ON STRIKE: The United Auto Workers union isn't just on strike at Big Three assembly plants in states like Michigan, where two presidential candidates made visits this week. It's also on the picket lines at parts warehouses in places like Bucks County, where WaPo (paywall) reports the strike has support from red and blue voters, providing a finger in the wind, of sorts, in the run-up to a big election year.

Today's third top news story in Pennsylvania.SHUTDOWN STREET: Congress has three days left to avoid the fourth partial shutdown of the federal government in the past decade. With a Saturday deadline looming and hardline conservatives pushing spending cuts the Dem-controlled Senate is all but certain to reject, scores of federal workers and military personnel, including 2,400 active duty troops from Pennsylvania, could see their paychecks stopped.
  • RELATED: Pa. residents face food assistance shortfalls, airport delays, and more if government shuts down, via Patch
  • Freedom Caucus Chair Scott Perry (R., Pa.) wants a federal budget compromise — to a point, via PennLive (paywall)
Today's fourth top news story in Pennsylvania.EARLY EXIT: Mike Vereb has resigned as Democratic Gov. Josh Shapiro’s top liaison to the legislature, marking the administration's first high-level resignation, per WHTM. No reason was given and questions were declined. The Inquirer (paywall) reports Vereb, a former GOP lawmaker, will be replaced by Thomas “T.J.” Yablonski Jr., a Wolf administration veteran and current senior adviser to Shapiro.

Today's fifth top news story in Pennsylvania.GAS FREE: State Rep. Melissa Shusterman (D., Chester) is eyeing the end of gas-powered lawn equipment in Pennsylvania. Shusterman wants to form a state task force to come up with a phase-out plan for the devices here, via WHTM. Other states are doing it, and so are manufacturers like Honda and retailers like Home Depot. The experts at Homes & Gardens say the end for gas-powered mowers is nigh.
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IN THE MAIL: Home deliveries of the Lebanon Daily News are changing. Starting Oct. 30, the paper says hardcopies will now be sent via U.S. mail, citing economic factors. Poynter said more news outlets are taking this route, but not without complication or inconvenience.

SUPERFUND SITE: The EPA will hold the first of two public information sessions on superfund plans for the polluted site of a former battery plant in Berks County tonight at the Muhlenberg High School in Reading.

LATE NOTICE: Residents of Arnold in Westmoreland County will get a chance to comment on the mysterious firing of the city's manager, almost a month after it happened. One expert told TribLIVE why that's a problem.

BIG HOUSE: A Harrisburg mansion previously owned by a 1920s-era professional baseball player and the 34th governor of Pennsylvania, James H. Duff, is up for sale, via WHTM: The asking price? Almost $1.5 million.

GOING FOR THREE: UPI has the story of Tank, a tortoise that has escaped the Mahoning Valley Animal Hospital in Andreas not once, not twice, but three times. "I call him Houdini," one vet tech told WNEP. 

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: Preposterous
Congrats to our daily winners: Becky C., Stacy S., Dan A., Richard A., Barbara F., Eric F., Bob C., Don H., John E., Jane R., Kimberly D., Jon W., John F., Elaine C., Dennis M., Daniel M., Susan N.-Z., William Z., Marie B., Carol S., Wendy A., Amy D. S., John P., Craig E., Stanley J., and Tom M.
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