Did you know Spotlight PA is a nonprofit? Learn more about our nonpartisan journalism »
Skip to main content
Main content

'Sin' taxes feed Shapiro's $48B budget plan

Plus, rural police force disbanded after chief's exit.

The logo of PA Post, a free daily newsletter delivering the top news from across Pennsylvania every day.

A daily newsletter by The logo of Spotlight PA, an independent, nonpartisan newsroom producing investigative journalism for Pennsylvania.
Your Postmaster: Colin Deppen

Wednesday, February 7, 2024
A message from our sponsor:
Join the Harrisburg Regional Chamber's forum with Pennsylvania senators serving the Harrisburg region on March 7.
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.


"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
Shop the Spotlight PA store for exclusive Pennsylvania gear and apparel.

ON SALE: Our Exclusive PA Tote Bag

Designed by a Pennsylvania artist just for Spotlight PA and printed by a local business.

Plus, get exclusive Spotlight PA apparel and accessories. SHOP NOW >

Hector Falls in the Allegheny National Forest, via @john_mccullough_photography. Send us your photos by email, use #PAGems on Instagram, or tag us @spotlightpennsylvania.

A waterfall and stream in rocky terrain.
Today's top news story in Pennsylvania.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.

Today's second top news story in Pennsylvania.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. 
Today's third top news story in Pennsylvania.
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.

Today's fourth top news story in Pennsylvania.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.
Today's fifth top news story in Pennsylvania.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 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: 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.
Like PA Post? Share it with a friend.

Love PA Post? Support it with a tax-deductible gift.

Forwarded this newsletter? Subscribe here.
Spotlight PA is an independent, nonpartisan & nonprofit newsroom producing investigative and public-service journalism that holds the powerful to account and drives positive change in Pennsylvania.

For sponsorship inquiries, email membership@spotlightpa.org.

Copyright © Spotlight PA, All rights reserved.

Spotlight PA
PO Box 11728
Harrisburg, PA 17108-1728


You're receiving this email because you subscribed to PA Post, a daily newsletter by Spotlight PA.

This email was sent to: <<Email Address>>

Receiving too many emails from Spotlight PA?

To change your newsletter subscriptions and frequency, you can update your preferences.

To stop receiving fundraising messages, you can update your preferences and select "Opt out of Fundraising."

To stop receiving ALL EMAILS from Spotlight PA, including all of our investigations and newsletters, you can completely unsubscribe here.