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Prison system seeks $300M more despite closures

Plus, proposed PA bill could reverse residency dispute law.

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Monday, May 20, 2024
Today: Rising budget, transplant halt, policy funds, differing opinions, and denied trial. Thanks for checking in.
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The Pennsylvania Department of Corrections is seeking more than $300 million in next year’s budget despite a declining incarcerated population and recent facility closures.
Democratic Gov. Josh Shapiro’s budget proposal to the state legislature included more than $200 million in additional funding for the department. The agency is also asking state lawmakers to approve $100 million in supplemental funds.
Officials say the increase is needed to address additional federal requirements and dwindling federal funds, as well as union obligations and overtime. 
Lawmakers have questioned how such a substantial increase is needed after the prison system promised savings following the closure of two facilities in 2017 and 2020. 
Read the full report: Costs for Pa. prison system are soaring despite facility closures, putting officials in the hot seat
“Mental health challenges impact people all across Pennsylvania and the country — from our reddest counties to our bluest, from our biggest cities to our smallest towns.”

—U.S. Sen. John Fetterman (D., Pa.) on why he introduced a bill seeking to establish a federal commission focused on mental health.
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Today's top news story in Pennsylvania.
PROGRAM HALT: Penn State Health has agreed to stop performing kidney transplants for two weeks after scrutiny from federal officials, Spotlight PA reports. The decision deals another blow to the health system’s attempts to rebuild its abdominal transplant program after it suspended operations in 2022 and faced serious disciplinary action from a national oversight body.
Today's second top news story in Pennsylvania.
DONOR INFLUENCE: A tax-exempt nonprofit linked to Lancaster Bible College has donated to groups advancing Christian positions in public schools, LNP | LancasterOnline (paywall) reports. Among the groups backed financially by the Eden Bridge Foundation is the Independence Law Center, which has promoted anti-LGBTQ school district policies across Pennsylvania. 
Today's third top news story in Pennsylvania.
STUDENT SERVICES: A proposed bill could reverse a Pennsylvania law that allows schools to bar homeless students from class during residency disputes, the Center for Public Integrity reports. The law conflicts with the federal McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act, which requires school districts to immediately enroll homeless students and provide support services. The state Senate Appropriations Committee has about six months to advance the legislation.
Today's fourth top news story in Pennsylvania.
VARIED VIEWS: Pennsylvania nurses, administrators, and advocates for older people have different opinions about a new Biden administration policy that aims to improve working conditions and address staffing shortages at long-term care facilities and nursing homes, TribLIVE reports. While workers think the mandatory ratios will have a good impact, industry lobbyists want more money to help facilities meet the requirements.

Today's fifth top news story in Pennsylvania.
REJECTED REQUEST: A federal judge has denied the Pittsburgh synagogue shooter’s request for a new trial, KDKA reports. U.S. District Judge Robert Colville described the arguments from defense lawyers as “entirely baseless” and “meritless.”
🤔 NEXT QUESTION: Are you on top of the news? Prove it with the latest edition of the Great PA News Quiz: McCormick's term limit vow, 'scandalous' conduct, and stunning solar weather
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DEEPFAKE DRAMA: A Bucks County mother talks about going viral after being falsely accused of creating a deepfake video of her daughter’s cheerleading rivals. 
AD LAWSUIT: Pennsylvania will receive more than $260,000 from cell phone companies in a misleading advertisement settlement, WPSU reports. 
SYMBOLIC VOTE: Some Northampton County Council members are seeking to declare the county a “right-to-choose" abortion sanctuary, WFMZ reports. 
DOUBLE IDENTITY: The Phillie Phanatic took off his furry, bright green costume to have a different kind of fun at Sunday’s game — giving away his latest children’s book to young fans. 
FARM FUN: Get to know the Westmoreland County family given the opportunity to host one of country star Luke Bryan’s concerts this fall. 
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