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Shapiro signs budget bill with school voucher veto

Plus, a COVID-19 summer surge is underway.

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Friday, August 4, 2023
Fiscal code, summer surge, indictment role, safety stall, debt hoarders, Wabtec suit, and a PA fish that can live on land. Enjoy the weekend.

With the consequences of Pennsylvania's monthlong budget impasse mounting, the state Senate reconvened on Thursday to send Pennsylvania's main $45.5 billion budget bill to Democratic Gov. Josh Shapiro's desk. 

But Shapiro’s signature is not the final word, with code bills directing expenditures still needing to be hashed out, including for key priorities like housing and new line items like indigent defense

Read Spotlight PA's full report: Pa. budget impasse nears end as Gov. Josh Shapiro signs main spending bill.

THE CONTEXT: This year's budget holdup centered on the inclusion of $100 million for private school vouchers, which Shapiro dropped his support of to secure budget backing from House Democrats, in turn angering Senate Republicans who refused to reconvene, leaving a key administrative step unfulfilled. That step was finally taken on Thursday.

Senate Majority Leader Joe Pittman (R., Indiana) on Wednesday implored Shapiro not to line-item veto the vouchers program as promised if the state Senate sent the budget bill to his desk. House Democrats urged the governor to follow through on the veto vow, which he ultimately did.

Lawmakers still haven’t passed code bills, which typically become law alongside the budget and include specific directions for how money can be spent. 

In a Thursday memo, Pennsylvania’s budget secretary, a Shapiro appointee, said the state will not spend money on at least seven programs until the governor signs additional legislation. Pittman identified these programs as unfunded without code bills.


"Stoning is appropriately barbaric."

Luke Saint advocating for the execution method as a guest on a podcast of the Lancaster Patriot, a far-right publication based in Lancaster County
Support vital journalism for Pennsylvania: The future of local news is in your hands. Donate now to Spotlight PA.
» Brown: redefine 'essential services' for budget delays, via PoliticsPA

» Pa. lawmakers hear from teachers on school voucher tour, via WPSU

» Hot mic catches Pa. lawmaker cursing first responder, via @TheKeystone

» Sen. Robinson apologizes for hot mic comment, via @SenRobinsonPA

» Mastriano: death penalty for child trafficking, via @StephenJ_Caruso

From Jenkins Arboretum & Gardens in Devon, via David G. Send us your photos by email, use #PAGems on IG, or tag us @spotlightpennsylvania.

A closeup of a yellow flower bathed in golden light.
Today's top news story in Pennsylvania.COVID COUNT: A COVID-19 summer surge is underway. While the number of hospitalizations is still near an all-time low, it's on the rise for the first time this year. Neighboring New York has seen COVID hospitalizations rise 22% in the past seven days compared with the previous week. The true extent of the U.S. rise may not be known due to limited testing and the end of state reporting, per Politco.Today's second top news story in Pennsylvania.CASE DETAILS: Pennsylvania plays a prominent role in the latest criminal case against former president Donald Trump. States Newsroom reports fake electors and 2020 election meddling are central to the case. Included in the filing: Trump publicly chastising Pennsylvania GOP state lawmakers for saying they didn’t have the authority to overturn the popular vote and appoint a slate of pro-Trump electors.Today's third top news story in Pennsylvania.RAIL RULES: It's been six months since the fiery and toxic train derailment near the Pennsylvania-Ohio border, and Congress is deadlocked on new safety rules amid opposition from the powerful railroad lobby, the AP reports. In Pennsylvania, a train safety bill has faced similar headwinds and questions about the enforceability of state rules for an industry traditionally regulated by the feds. 

Today's fourth top news story in Pennsylvania.DEBT RELIEF: Pittsburgh city councilors have approved a $1 million plan to buy and forgive medical debt for tens of thousands of city residents, TribLIVE reports. The program, backed by American Rescue Plan Act dollars, would be overseen by New York-based nonprofit RIP Medical Debt and could forgive about $115 million in health care debt owed by about 24,000 city residents, officials predict.
  • RELATED: Pittsburgh taps pandemic aid for cop cars, via WESA
Today's fifth top news story in Pennsylvania.STRIKE SUIT: Pittsburgh-based locomotive-maker Wabtec sued the union representing its striking workers in Erie this week, alleging unlawful activity on the picket lines at the plant's gates in Lawrence Park Township, Erie Times-News reports, via Yahoo. A Thursday hearing on the company's legal filing yielded a court-approved consent decree between the parties and 15 terms that regulate strikers' conduct.
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🏆 QUIZ SHOW: Test your grip on the week in news with the latest edition of The Great PA News Quiz: Trump indictment mentions, fake electors, and opioid money for cops. Then share your score. 

MAN'S BEST FRIEND: The Inquirer (paywall) has the heartbreaking story of a 12-year-old Akita-shepherd mix named Mordecai who perished in a South Philly fire Saturday after saving his owner from the blaze.

TINY HOUSES: Grist examines how tiny houses went "from a minimalist revolution to an Instagram aesthetic." State Rep. Darisha Parker (D., Philadelphia) has urged new regulations for the small structures.

FISH FIGHT: State officials want Pennsylvania anglers to dispose of any northern snakehead fish they catch. The invasive species — a "voracious predator" — can survive outside of water for up to four days.

SLIDE SUITS: Video of a Boston police officer rocketing down a playground slide went viral this week. But a giant slide in Westmoreland County has drawn more lawsuits, including two filed last month.

FRICK FLICK: Spend some time in Pittsburgh's biggest park — the 644-acre Henry Clay Frick namesake — with documentarian Dean Bog, who says it's more like Yosemite than an urban playground.

*Note: The Scrambler is taking a brief vacation. It'll be back on Monday.
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