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|Today: Budget kickoff, cyberattack, Capitol protest, cannabis hearing, unheeded warning, false reports, and Philly's World Cup moment.
Democratic Gov. Josh Shapiro will kick off another round of budget talks with his second budget address today, and tax hikes are on the table as billions of dollars are needed to shore up public school funding following a key court ruling.
Spotlight PA reports: The answer could involve sales or income tax increases, but Republicans say those pitches must come with concessions from Democrats, like property tax relief. Increasing taxes on liquor or gambling, or legalizing marijuana are attractive options, but so-called “sin taxes” have failed to produce lasting revenue in the past.
Read Spotlight PA's full report: Raising taxes on the table as Pennsylvania weighs how to pay for education ruling.
Read more: Transit, education expected to be centerpieces of Gov. Josh Shapiro’s 2024 state budget address.
Watch: Shapiro's budget address beginning at 12:30 p.m.
|NOTABLE / QUOTABLE
"I was wrong."
—Erie postal worker Richard Hopkins, who claimed firsthand knowledge of 2020 election fraud, a claim amplified by Team Trump. Hopkins now says he misinterpreted a "fragment" of a supervisor's conversation.
SPOTLIGHT PA STORE ON SALE: Our Exclusive PA Tote BagDesigned by a Pennsylvania artist just for Spotlight PA and printed by a local business.
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|CYBERATTACKED: A Sunday cyberattack on the Pennsylvania state courts agency’s website left some online systems disabled but did not appear to compromise any data, the Capital-Star reports. Courts were open Monday as federal authorities began to investigate.
'DIVEST' PROTEST: Pro-Palestine protesters took to the halls of the state Capitol in Harrisburg on Monday to demand the state treasury divest some $60 million from Israel, WHTM reports. Dozens of protesters were taken away in handcuffs by State Police.
POT PRIORITIES: Reps of the largest corporations in Pennsylvania's medical marijuana market spoke to state lawmakers Monday about legalizing recreational cannabis here. One urged them not to legalize possession first, drawing scorn from advocates.
EARLY WARNING: Dauphin County Prison staff were warned 38-year-old Christopher Keith Ply might be planning to take his own life five days before he did. PennLive (paywall) reports help never arrived, and Ply became the latest in a long line of in-custody deaths.
FAKE NEWS: Dozens of false and laudatory news stories found populating the campaign website of Philly's embattled sheriff were generated by ChatGPT, the AP reports. Sheriff Rochelle Bilal’s campaign removed more than 30 stories following Inquirer reporting.
REDLINING CASE: Pittsburgh-based First National Bank will pay more than $13 million to resolve allegations of redlining in predominantly Black and Hispanic neighborhoods in North Carolina, Market Watch reports.
COSTLY DELAY: Officials confirm more than 260 Lancaster County mail ballots were rejected in last year's election because of an unexplained, weekslong United States Postal Service delay, per FOX43.
ELECTION DAY: A week from today, voters in Bucks County will cast ballots in another special election for control of the state House. Spotlight PA reported the 140th district is historically Democratic but increasingly purple.
FLIP SCHOOL: Vanity Fair has an in-depth look at the Democratic flip of the Pennridge school board in Bucks County amid a GOP-led anti-diversity push that yielded a civil rights complaint and maybe a "national 'blueprint."
WORLD CUP: Philly will host six 2026 FIFA World Cup matches, and Axios says "they'll be among the largest events in city history, bringing hundreds of thousands of visitors and millions in tourist dollars."
Are you a Berks County resident? We're seeking community input! Join one of our upcoming Spotlight PA - Berks County listening sessions:
Feb. 21: 5:30-7:30 p.m. at West Lawn-Wyomissing Hills Library | Register Here
A listening session is an informal, small-group discussion in which we are seeking your thoughts, opinions, and concerns on local news coverage, information access, community information needs, and news consumption habits. Visit spotlightpa.org/berks for more information.
Unscramble and send your answer to email@example.com
. 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
G N E A U S N I
Yesterday's answer: Tendency
Congrats to our daily winners: Vicki U., Bob C., Eric F., Richard A., Julie K., Kimberly D., Daniel M., Barbara F., Lynne E., Marsha B., Marty M., Jon W., Stacy S., Don H., Sandi H., John A., John P., Alan B., Jay H., Rick W., Elaine C., Fran C., Judith D., Marie B., Susan N.-Z., Mary S., David T., Jane R., Jeffrey F., Amelia M., Millie M., Janet S., Craig E., Dan A., James E., David W., William Z., Stanley J., Rylanda W., Tish M., Kim C., Joel S., Tom M., Sharon B., David M., Alicia S., Jody A., and Ada M.