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State budget talks still stuck on education

Plus, who bought one of PA’s biggest private forests?

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

Tuesday, July 9, 2024
Today: School money, Biden coalition, Casey critics, key county, flurry of bills, settlement share, and the next Cherry Springs? 

Pennsylvania’s budget is late and still being delayed by a disagreement over education funding as lawmakers debate how much additional money to send to the state’s public schools following last year's landmark court ruling.

Spotlight PA's Stephen Caruso writes:

In recent days, legislative leaders say a new issue has emerged: picking which data to use to determine the schools most in need of supplementary money.

While that may seem like a minor detail in a budget expected to exceed $48 billion, one expert said a wrong decision could fall short of addressing a landmark court ruling and deprive poor districts of needed dollars. 

Read the full report: A disagreement about measuring student poverty is delaying the Pa. budget


"We as a department have to do better."

Jason Kavulich, who heads Pennsylvania's Department of Aging, on Spotlight PA reporting that found serious delays in elder abuse investigations statewide; here are key takeaways from that investigation
A woman in Berks County shares what local news coverage she wants to read as part of a Spotlight PA study
Berks County residents are extremely frustrated with the diminished capacity of the local newspaper and they are concerned about a lack of access to trustworthy information in their community, according to a groundbreaking study by Spotlight PA.

In response to the findings, Spotlight PA is planning to launch a new regional reporting bureau in Berks County to be supported primarily by people living and working in the region. Read the full story, and then support the effort »

SPECIAL EVENT: Join us today from 6-7 p.m. ET on Zoom for a one-on-one interview with author Elizabeth Currid-Halkett, whose new book explores how the urban-rural divide in Pennsylvania and across the U.S. is vastly overstated. Become a member to join this exclusive event.

ROCKY WATERS: Join us Thursday, July 18 from 6-7 p.m. ET on Zoom for a live panel on Pennsylvania’s private water industry, how it is regulated, and how communities are affected when service is subpar. Register for the event here and submit your questions to events@spotlightpa.org.

Garlic harvesting with Penny W. from Northumberland County, who adds: Remember to plant cloves in mid-October for next year’s crop. Send us your photos by email, use #PAGems on Instagram, or tag us @spotlightpennsylvania
Freshly harvested garlic bulbs arranged in a row.
Today's top news story in Pennsylvania.
BIDEN BACKERS: U.S. Rep. Dwight Evans (D., Pa.) is among the Congressional Black Caucus members sticking by President Joe Biden and his bid for a second term. Black lawmakers like Evans are emerging as a key line of defense for Biden as he fights to save his campaign and stem defections. Pennsylvania's other Black Caucus member, U.S. Rep. Summer Lee, has said Biden must prove himself

• Rep. Wild defends questioning of Biden's electability, via NBC10.
• WURD CEO says Biden pulled a 'fast one,' via Inky (paywall).
Today's second top news story in Pennsylvania.
FAMILY TIES: U.S. Sen. Bob Casey (D., Pa,.) is facing scrutiny over friends and family Republicans say have benefited from his political career, NBC News reports, including siblings in lobbying and the legal field, and another whose printing company received more than a half-million dollars’ for work on his campaigns. Casey's supporters say he's long been committed to ethics reform in Washington, D.C.
• Did McCormick really create ‘hundreds of jobs’ in Pa.?, via WHYY.
Today's third top news story in Pennsylvania.
TRUMP STOP: Former President Donald Trump is coming to Butler County Saturday ahead of next week's Republican National Convention in Wisconsin. TribLIVE says the county's mix of rural areas and fast-growing suburbs make it crucial to Trump's election chances. It's also a place where "Gov. Josh Shapiro and U.S. Sen. John Fetterman, both Democrats, improved on Biden’s margins in 2022."
Today's fourth top news story in Pennsylvania.
BILL BRIEFS: City & State reports lawmakers — while at odds over what the final state budget should look like — have managed to move a flurry of bills this cycle on everything from Israeli divestments to health coverage of contraceptives, Sunday hunting, and cellphones in schools. On Monday, Democratic Gov. Josh Shapiro signed dog law fixes, a Philly tow truck driver accountability bill, and others into law.
Today's fifth top news story in Pennsylvania.
AD MONEY: A local TV news station is seeking a $985,000 cut of Luzerne County's opioid settlement dollars for an ad campaign focused on opioid misuse. WVIA reports $890,000 of the amount requested by WBRE/WYOU would go toward ad placement, and the rest would go toward messaging. It's unclear when the county council will vote on the proposal, but councilmembers are expressing their support.
COURT SUPPORT: A court shared by six central Pennsylvania counties will support veterans "struggling with addiction or mental illness, including PTSD" while facing legal charges, WPSU reports. 

BIG BUY: Rumors that Taylor Swift had bought one of Pennsylvania's largest privately owned forests in Elk County reached as far south as Pittsburgh. PA Local looked into the claim and found the real buyer.

STAR TREATMENT: Pennsylvania's next big stargazing attraction could be located on a former landfill in Cameron County — an hour away from the extremely popular dark sky viewing at Cherry Springs State Park.

DEMO PLAN: After years of looking for a buyer, the former state prison along the banks of the Ohio River in Pittsburgh is set to be demolished, with the space slated for industrial use after that, per KDKA-TV.

HISTORIC ITEM: A Revolutionary War-era musket stolen from Valley Forge more than 50 years ago has been found and donated to the Museum of the American Revolution in Philadelphia, CNN 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 countedPlease include your first name and last initial.

Yesterday's answer: Cardinal
Congrats to our daily winners: Jane R., Bob C., Ted W., Starr B., Elaine C., Jon W., Stacy S., Barbara F., Don H., Susan N.-Z., Daniel M., Eric F., Lynne E., Kimberly D., Sherri A., Rosemary C., William Z., Tracy S., Judith D., Timothy A., Susan R., Beth H., Richard A., Bill S., Stanley J., John A., Maloy S., Annette I., Amelia M., Diane L., Jeffrey F., Perry H., Tom M., Tish M., David M., and Rena Z.
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