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Bad blood, technicalities snarl Pa.'s 2023 budget

Plus, funding for Pitt, Penn State caught in budget impasse.

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Monday, July 10, 2023
🏆 TEST DAY: Last week was a busy one for Pennsylvania news. Were you paying attention? Prove it with the latest edition of The Great PA News Quiz: Budget impasse and a local sci-fi legend.
Budget blocks, behind inflation, forever chemicals, abuse inquiry, out-of-state influx, and a cheesesteak analogy for Meta's answer to Twitter.

Both chambers of the General Assembly have passed a $45.5 billion budget plan that has Gov. Josh Shapiro's support, but legislative technicalities and bad blood over a contested school voucher proposal that Shapiro abandoned are prolonging a budget impasse that could prove costly.

Local entities dependent on state funding could begin to feel the financial impacts of the impasse in a few months' time, and the state Senate has announced no plans to return to Harrisburg until September as GOP leadership protests Shapiro's sudden voucher pivot.

Budget-enabling code bills still need to be hashed out and the signatures of presiding officers in both chambers are required. House Majority Leader Matt Bradford (D., Montgomery) says a "reset" is needed. 

Read Spotlight PA's full report: Bad blood, technicalities, and complicated code bills keep Pa.'s already late 2023 budget in limbo.

MONEY FOR COLLEGE: Dovetailing with summer budget negotiations is the annual process of approving budget bills that direct state funding to four state-related universities: Pitt, Temple, Lincoln, and Penn State.

Funding for the schools, most of which supports tuition discounts for in-state students, must pass the legislature by a two-thirds majority, a high bar in the state House, which Democrats control by a single vote.

Appropriations for the schools failed to pass the House last week and House members have left Harrisburg indefinitely.

State House Democratic leaders ended Friday's session with no resolution and blamed Republicans for the deadlock, while also reportedly courting GOP votes with promises of funding for local projects. 

Read the full report: Hundreds of millions of dollars in state funding for state-related universities caught in budget impasse.


“I would not change a word or modify anything.”

Local New Jersey official Louis Cappelli Jr. who said “thugs and criminals and gun-bearing freaks” from Philadelphia aren’t welcome in Camden

Support vital journalism for Pennsylvania: The future of local news is in your hands. Donate now to Spotlight PA.
» Pa. House passes anti-hair discrimination CROWN Act, via WHTM

» GOP rep. says CROWN Act not 'frivolous,' via @RepWilliamsPA

» Dem-led Pa. House passes charter school reform bill, via AP

» Shapiro touts $1.6B for high-speed internet, via New Castle News

» Former LG Mike Stack tries comedy again, via Inky (paywall)

» Team Biden sees I-95 rebuild as key to reelection, via Politico

» Dems eye progressive momentum in Pittsburgh, via NBC News

Sunrise in Philadelphia, via Carol MJ. Send us your photos by email, use #PAGems on Instagram, or tag us @spotlightpennsylvania.

A long-range shot of Philadelphia's skyline and neighborhoods with the rising sun visible on the horizon.
Today's top news story in Pennsylvania.ONE IN SIX DISTRICTS: The Pennsylvania budget passed by the state House last week includes more than $700 million in additional money for K-12 schools, but The Inquirer (paywall) reports advocates say it isn't enough, and that the proposed funding hike won't keep pace with inflation in one in six school districts. The budget remains unfinished with a private school voucher dispute roiling the process.

Today's second top news story in Pennsylvania.WATER FOUL: Nearly half of U.S. tap water likely contains the toxic “forever chemicals” known as PFAS, a new study by the U.S. Geological Survey found. Urban areas and those near airports, industry, and wastewater treatment plants are especially susceptible. Pennsylvania enacted drinking water limits on two kinds of PFAS in January, while the federal government is preparing to roll out its own
  • RELATED: Pa. waited more than 2 years to test wells after finding PFAS contamination near a community, via Spotlight PA
  • Toilet paper may be a PFAS source, via Healthline
Today's third top news story in Pennsylvania.

MORE CHARGES: Five more Jehovah's Witnesses have been charged by a Pennsylvania grand jury investigating the sexual abuse of children in an ongoing probe of the religious community, the AP reports. The charges come months after nine men connected to the denomination here were similarly accused amid claims of a systemic coverup by church leaders who treat abuse as a sin, not a crime.

  • RELATED: Lawsuit alleges teen was sexually assaulted by fellow Jehovah's Witnesses in York, via Inky (paywall)
Today's fourth top news story in Pennsylvania.POST-ROE PATIENTS: Last year's overturning of Roe v. Wade inundated Pennsylvania abortion providers with new patients from other states, many where restrictions had quickly been ratcheted up. PennLive (paywall) reports providers in central Pennsylvania saw a 20% increase in out-of-state patients, while Pittsburgh-area providers saw a nine percent increase and the number of states involved more than triple.

Today's fifth top news story in Pennsylvania.POLICE SHOOTING: Friends and family of 51-year-old John Vincent Dye are questioning official accounts of the State Police shooting that ended his life after a car chase through Indiana County earlier this month, telling TribLIVE Dye was developmentally disabled and possibly suffering from mental illness. The local DA is investigating. Such investigations have faced increased scrutiny.
Investigative journalism that gets results: Spotlight PA's vital work depends on you. Donate now.

PA MANHUNT: State Police on Sunday said discovered campsites and supplies lead them to believe a homicide suspect who escaped a Warren County jail last week is still in the area, the Times Observer reports. It's the second large-scale manhunt for Michael Burham since May.

TWITTER TWIN: Another day, another social media app. Threads, Meta’s Twitter competitor, gives Instagram users a similar experience, but how does it work? The Inquirer (paywall) breaks it down with a cheesesteak analogy.

SCOOTER STOP: Pittsburgh's beloved (and sometimes hated) e-scooters are on an indefinite pause now that a two-year pilot program has ended while awaiting an extension from state lawmakers, TribLIVE reports.

(JOSH’S VERSION): Gov. Shapiro took to Twitter to let everyone know he was most excited to hear "Never Grow Up" on Taylor Swift's re-recorded Speak Now album. He said he cries "basically every time" he hears it.

IN MEMORIAM: A Pittsburgh foundation is ensuring Western Pennsylvania Negro League baseball players are not forgotten by updating their gravesites in Allegheny County, WESA reports.

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.

Friday's answer: Nonsensical

Congrats to our weekly winner: Kevin R. 

Congrats to our daily winners: Beth T., Susan N., Stacy S., Jon W., Don H., Wendy A., Craig E., Elaine C., Craig W., David W., Susan D., Judith D., Kim C., James B., Richard A., Bob C., Tom M., and Dennis M.
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