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Education a budget sticking point as clock ticks

Plus, rural PA reckons with population loss.

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A daily newsletter by The logo of Spotlight PA, an independent, nonpartisan newsroom producing investigative journalism for Pennsylvania.
Your Postmaster: Spotlight PA staff

Tuesday, June 25, 2024
Today: Budget update, rural shrink, pronatalist platform, Forward-backed, Sinclair stories, gender care, and a big building. 

Education funding is a key barrier to a state budget deal days out from the June 30 fiscal deadline. 

Lawmakers have to overhaul Pennsylvania’s funding system for basic education following a landmark court ruling

But how much to spend remains a sticking point in a split legislature, with $14 billion in reserves and leaders of both parties insisting Sunday's looming deadline won’t make them change their approach. 

Read Spotlight PA's full report: A big education fight stands in the way of a Pa. budget deal.

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“I thought, ‘my teacher, is a good guy.’ I had just finished up with all my college applications, I might as well offer to help out.”
Recent Chester County high school graduate Lucca Ruggieri, 18, who is heading up his former teacher’s campaign for Congress
A woman in Berks County shares what local news coverage she wants to read as part of a Spotlight PA study
Berks County residents are extremely frustrated with the diminished capacity of the local newspaper and they are concerned about a lack of access to trustworthy information in their community, according to a groundbreaking study released today by Spotlight PA.

In response to the findings, Spotlight PA is planning to launch a new regional reporting bureau in Berks County to be supported primarily by people living and working in the region. Read the full story, and then support the effort »
A cat in the catmint, via Starr B. Have a photo to share? Send it to us by email, use #PAGems on Instagram, or tag us @spotlightpennsylvania
A black cat in a small bush.
Today's top news story in Pennsylvania.
SHRINKING NUMBERS: Population loss is becoming a crisis for rural counties across the U.S., especially in places like Pennsylvania. The commonwealth is estimated to lose another 6% of its rural population by 2050. The Washington Post (gift link) profiled a Warren County town to illustrate how rural areas are grappling with the decline.
Today's second top news story in Pennsylvania.
DOUBLING DOWN: Pronatalist GOP state House candidate Simone Collins, whose Guardian profile took the internet by storm, said she wants the government to get its “foot off the neck of parents," The Inquirer (paywall) reports. She also wants to encourage families to have more kids and explore laws she says hinder them from doing so.
Today's third top news story in Pennsylvania.
PARTY FIRST: Andrew Yang's Forward Party endorsed state Rep. Valerie Gaydos (R., Allegheny) on Monday — its first Republican candidate endorsement in Pennsylvania, per The Center Square. The party was also going to endorse incumbent Republican Auditor General Timothy DeFoor, but he backed out at the last minute in May.
Today's fourth top news story in Pennsylvania.
NEWS FLOOD: The conservative media broadcast group Sinclair is using local stations in swing states like Pennsylvania to amplify attacks on President Joe Biden's mental fitness, Judd Legum's Popular Information reports. Such coverage has appeared at Sinclair stations in Harrisburg, Johnstown, and Scranton of late. 
Today's fifth top news story in Pennsylvania.
STATE BANS: The U.S. Supreme Court will take up state bans on gender-affirming care for minors via a Biden administration challenge of one such law in Tennessee. Legislation that would ban gender transition procedures for minors and related coverage in Pennsylvania was referred to a state House committee last week.
Support vital journalism for Pennsylvania. Donate to Spotlight PA today.
YES VOTES: Seven of 8 Pennsylvania Republicans in Congress recently voted to restore a Confederate memorial in Arlington National Cemetery. The measure ultimately failed. U.S. Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick was the only member of Pennsylvania's GOP delegation to vote no.

BIG BUILDING: proposed 37-story tower at the corner of Walnut and 9th Streets in Allentown would be the tallest building in Pennsylvania outside of Pittsburgh and Philly if it gets built, WHTM reports.

DANGEROUS WATER: TribLIVE reports in-boat whitewater rafting guides remain optional in Pennsylvania, even after deaths and a jury's recommendations. The state allows outfitters to set their own rules.

BUG OUT: Pennsylvania has ideal conditions for fireflies, but Inside Climate News reports climate change poses a serious threat.

ROOM AT THE INN: The Harrisburg-Hershey area has seen a boom in hotel rooms. PennLive asks: Are there enough travelers to fill them? 
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: Exoskeleton

Congrats to our daily winners: Eric F., Stacy S., Vicki U., Kathy S., Beth H., Bob C., Don H., Susan N.-Z., Mary D., Jody A., Marty M., Barbara F., Bruce B., Brooke S., Daniel M., Benjamin M., Jodi R., Elaine C., Brandie K., Kimberly D., Jon W., Daniel S., Lynne E., Beth T., Patricia E., Richard A., Judith D., Starr B., Nan S., Perry H., John P., Dan A., Connie K., Adrien M., Kathy B., Eddy Z., Matt A., Amelia M., Mike H., Karen W., Annette I., Jacob H., Randall W., William Z., Alan B., Brent W., Ada M., Tom M., Wendy A., Ted W., Michael K., Stanley J., Jane R., and Joel S.
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