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Pa. lawmakers clash over billions in tax credits

Plus, Pa. House passes minimum wage hike.

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Your Postmaster: Colin Deppen

Wednesday, June 21, 2023
With credit, I-95 timeline, charity case, Antwon Rose, Pitt grades, new low, and Philly's last smoking bars. Thanks for checking in. This is PA Post.

Two bills passed by the state House last week could net Pennsylvania families across the income spectrum more than $2.5 billion in tax breaks by 2028, but first they'll need to make it all the way through the divided legislature.

The proposals passed the lower chamber with bipartisan support, but they might not survive the GOP-controlled state Senate, a possibility that showcases the political tensions at play as Democratic Gov. Josh Shapiro and the split legislature attempt to negotiate a budget deal by June 30.

Read Spotlight PA's full report: Tax credits for Pa. families worth billions of dollars are on the table this budget season.

THE CONTEXT: Pennsylvania's coffers are currently full, but projections of offsetting revenue shortfalls over the next five years have contributed to lawmaker squeamishness around moves to heighten spending or (in this case) lower revenue through two family oriented tax credits.

The first would grow the maximum deduction for child care costs to 50% by 2028 (or up to $5,000 for one child or $10,000 for multiple children, whichever is lower), and the second would create a state version of the earned income tax credit for individuals and families under certain income levels.

The proposals would cost Pennsylvania billions over the next five years, according to the state's Department of Revenue. 

State Rep. Seth Grove (R., York), the House GOP's chief budget negotiator, assailed the expanded child care tax credit as untargeted and the earned income tax credit as an "expensive welfare program."

Both bills are headed to the state Senate, where Majority Leader Joe Pittman (R., Indiana) downplayed their chances, saying he wasn’t sure if "our budget could handle" such tax reductions, but left the door open on other Democratic priorities like school construction and bolstering child care services.


"I replay the events of the past weeks over in my head and sit here stunned. My brother was experiencing psychosis."

Christina Hummel, sister of Brandon Stine, a man who fatally shot one state trooper and critically wounded another before dying in a Saturday shootout
» Pa. House passes minimum wage hike in 103-100 vote, via PoliticsPA

» Pa. House passes tax credit for new cops, teachers and nurses, via AP

» Pa. House passes parking protected bike lane bill, via @StephenJ_Caruso

» Pa. Senate passes long-sought dog law updates, via PennLive (paywall)

» Philly Dem wants more options for mass-transit funding, via Capital-Star

» Vote on Pa. Secretary of State nominee delayed, via @gill_mcgoldrick
Investigative journalism that gets results. Spotlight PA's vital work depends on you. Donate now.

» HOW HARRISBURG WORKS: Join us tomorrow, June 22 at 6 p.m. ET on Zoom for a free panel on Pennsylvania’s 2023 budget, what issues are on the table, and how you can get involved. Register for the event here and submit your questions to events@spotlightpa.org


Taking off, via Claire G. in Oreland. Send us your photos by email, use #PAGems on Instagram, or tag us @spotlightpennsylvania.

A bird taking flight from a branch, a bright blue sky behind it.
Today's top news story in Pennsylvania.I-95 OPENING: Gov. Shapiro said Tuesday that a collapsed section of I-95 in Philadelphia will be open to traffic again this weekend, WPVI reports. "This is what it looks like when the ingenuity of Delco meets the grit of Philly," Shapiro said of the 24/7 construction of temporary travel lanes. "This is what happens when we all come together."
  • RELATED: Time-lapse video of I-95 construction, via WPVI
Today's second top news story in Pennsylvania.CHARITY CARE: A 1985 state Supreme Court ruling laid out five criteria Pennsylvania hospitals must meet to be considered nonprofits, including donating "a substantial portion" of their services free of charge. But The Inquirer (paywall) says charity care levels are wildly divergent and often hard to pinpoint, especially without a federal mandate.
  • RELATED: A Pa. hospital's revoked property tax exemption is a 'warning shot' to other nonprofits, expert says, via Spotlight PA
Today's third top news story in Pennsylvania.FIVE YEARS: This week marks five years since a Black teenager named Antwon Rose was fatally shot in the back by a white police officer just outside of Pittsburgh. The officer, Michael Rosfeld, was acquitted by a jury, and activists say movement on the police reform goals galvanized by the case has been piecemeal, per TribLIVE.

Today's fourth top news story in Pennsylvania.LOW MARKS: Two years after publicly committing itself to enrolling more low-income students at its main campus, the University of Pittsburgh is lagging behind its peers. PublicSource reports the poorest students still make up a smaller share of Pitt’s student body than they do at many other top public research universities.
  • RELATED: Affordability remains top issue for Pa.'s state-related universities during budget process, via Spotlight PA
Today's fifth top news story in Pennsylvania.RECORD LOW: Pennsylvania’s unemployment rate fell to 4% in May, a record low, according to state officials. A legislative push to ensure the state's unemployment trust fund has enough money to weather the next downturn, avoiding more taxpayer-funded debt service, has gone nowhere since Spotlight PA ran this explainer.
  • RELATED: Pa. recovered more than 100% of the 1.1M jobs lost in early COVID-19 pandemic as of January, via The Inquirer (paywall)
Support vital journalism for Pennsylvania. The future of local news is in your hands. Donate now.

BUG WAR: If you, like me, are wondering why you've yet to see any spotted lanternflies this summer, Penn State researchers they're still here and that localized population fluctuations are normal. Meanwhile, researchers at CMU in Pittsburgh have created a robot that grinds their eggs to dust.

THEFT RING: Nine people from Pennsylvania have been charged with stealing priceless artworks and sports memorabilia, including Yogi Berra's World Series rings and horse-racing trophies, from U.S. museums over 20 years. Rolling Stone (paywall) calls the allegations "a wild ride."

DYING BREED: There are a handful of smoking bars left in Philadelphia, the largest U.S. city that still allows them, according to Billy Penn. They're holdovers granted exemptions from the city's indoor-smoking ban, but those exemptions aren't transferable and the city won't be granting new ones.

MALL FALL: Four YouTubers have been charged with felony trespassing for entering the defunct and decaying Century III mall near Pittsburgh. It's become a destination for content creators, despite local pleas to stay out.

PRIDE ESSAY: Fox Chapel native Todd Feiler pens a powerful essay on his experiences growing up queer and closeted in the affluent and conservative town: "An evening in the park showed me how much has changed."

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: Liberation

Congrats to our daily winners: Barbara F., Thomas S., Jane R., Don H., Elaine C., Dan A., Becky C., Jon W., Kimberly D., Wendy A., Stacy S., Vicki U., Craig W., Bob C., Susan D., Susan N.-Z., Doug W., Lynne E., Dennis M., David W., Tom M., Richard A., William Z., and Janice H.
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