|A daily newsletter by
A message from our sponsor:
|Today: Budget items, disbanded police, fraud claims, 'virtual battle,' media policy, and drone charges. Thanks for checking in.
Gov. Josh Shapiro's $48.3 billion budget plan, unveiled Tuesday, looks to cash reserves and new taxes on legal cannabis and so-called skill games to bankroll increased investments in education, public transit, and more.
“We can’t afford not to invest right now,” the first-term Democrat said before a crowd in the Capitol rotunda, which was this year’s unusual venue for the budget address because of a leak in the state House chamber.
In calling on lawmakers to legalize adult-use cannabis and harness its revenue-generating potential, Shapiro said the industry would bring in more than $250 million annually once fully implemented.
His remarks caused cannabis stocks to jump, per Market Watch.
Not included in Tuesday's address: A call for taxpayer money for private school vouchers, a key Republican priority that Shapiro championed, then backed off of, during last year’s nearly six-month budget fight.
Read Spotlight PA's full report: Shapiro pitches legal cannabis, regulated skill games in budget that bumps education spending by $2.2B.
|NOTABLE / QUOTABLE
"From what I have heard so far about the budget, Shapiro’s spending plan is expensive and light on details. He wants to spend Pennsylvanians' money like high-taxed states such as California, New York, and Massachusetts."
—State Senate President Pro Tempore Kim Ward (R., Westmoreland) on Shapiro's budget plan, which now faces a divided legislature
SPOTLIGHT PA STORE ON SALE: Our Exclusive PA Tote BagDesigned by a Pennsylvania artist just for Spotlight PA and printed by a local business.
Plus, get exclusive Spotlight PA apparel and accessories. SHOP NOW >
|BUDGET ITEMS: Elsewhere in Gov. Shapiro's second budget ask: free feminine hygiene products in schools; $50 million for the Whole-Home Repairs program; a $2.5 million increase for indigent defense; first-time funding for a statewide Office of Gun Violence; and a near-historic funding hike for Pennsylvania's state-owned universities.
POLICE PIVOTS: When the police chief stepped down in Sweden Township, Potter County, the municipality disbanded the whole department and joined a growing list of rural Pennsylvania towns reliant on full-time State Police coverage, per Spotlight PA.
LONG HAUL: Almost two years after losing the GOP primary for state Sen. Ryan Aument's Lancaster County seat, Michael Miller continues to press fraud claims in court — highlighting "the GOP’s complicated relationship with election denial," LNP (paywall) reports.
IN BRIEF: The state court system's website remained "in a virtual battle" with cyberattackers Tuesday, state Supreme Court Chief Justice Debra Todd explained; and the final count of arrests at Monday's pro-Palestine protest in the state Capitol stands at 126.
COMMITTEE DATE: A bill that would create an exception in Pennsylvania's drug paraphernalia law for syringe services is set for a House committee vote next week, via @edmahonreporter. Spotlight PA and WESA reported on the current legal conflict.
'GAG ORDER': Philly Mayor Cherelle Parker's office has a strict new top-down media policy for city departments, even libraries, that requires pre-approval of statements and social media posts. Critics call it stifling.
PECO SCAMS: Southeast Pennsylvania electric and gas utility PECO is warning of new scams targeting its customers. WHYY breaks down the red flags to look for and how to confirm a call from the company is legit.
TRACING ROOTS: State Rep. Chris Rabb (D., Philadelphia) returned to Yale University, his alma mater, to host a genealogy workshop for Black History Month. He also noted the markers of slavery that still exist on campus.
UP NEXT: If you missed last month's Spotlight PA panel on the corruption case rocking the city of DuBois, in Clearfield County, here are five key takeaways from the discussion, which can be viewed in full here.
ILLEGAL ACTIVITY: A Chadds Ford man has been federally charged for flying a drone over M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore during last month's AFC Championship game. The game was briefly paused as a result.
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
A L N N E T M E I R C
Yesterday's answer: Sanguine
Congrats to our daily winners: Eric F., Eddy Z., Bob C., Elaine C., Stacy S., Dan A., Ted W., Kimberly D., Richard A., Barbara F., Nan S., Kim C., Jon W., Susan N.-Z., Jane R., Daniel M., Lynne E., Alan B., Janet S., Christina M., Stanley J., Don H., Marie B., Mike H., Georgann J., Craig E., Jeffrey F., Wendy A., Tish M., Tom M., Joel S., Sharon B., Vicki U., and David W.