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What is — and isn't — in the final Pa. budget

Plus, lawmakers begin weighing enshrining abortion rights in the Pa. constitution.

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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: Spotlight PA Staff

Friday, December 15, 2023
In today's edition: Budget bills, rural boost, more PSU insight, abortion amendment, vacant seat, and Taylor Swift's era in Pennsylvania. TGIF.

Pennsylvania’s budget impasse ended this week after the divided state legislature agreed to send millions of dollars to community colleges and libraries, fund public legal defense, and create a student teacher stipend.

Three budget-enabling code bills, plus dozens of other pieces of legislation, passed with broad bipartisan support during a swirl of late-night votes and were sent to Gov. Josh Shapiro’s desk.

Read Spotlight PA's full report: Pennsylvania’s budget impasse ends as legislature agrees to boost child care tax credit, fund public defense.

THE CONTEXT: The flurry of action marked a sudden end to five-and-a-half months of deadlock that divided the Democratic-controlled state House and the Republican-controlled state Senate and ground the gears of government to a halt.

The budget bills create a handful of new programs, including ones that would more than triple the size of Pennsylvania’s child care tax credit and add preventative dental care to the state’s Medicaid program.

But this week’s deal leaves out some high-profile items lawmakers had initially agreed to fund in the summer, including the popular Whole-Home Repairs Program.

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"In an increasingly digital world, cursive has fallen by the wayside."

—State Rep. Joseph Adams (R., Wayne) in a memo seeking support from his colleagues for a bill that makes learning cursive mandatory.
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Critter ornaments on a Christmas tree at the Brandywine Museum of Art in Chadds Ford, via Don N. Have a Pennsylvania photo to share? Send it to us by email, use #PAGems on Instagram, or tag us @spotlightpennsylvania.

critter onarmanets on a christmas tree
Today's top news story in Pennsylvania.RURAL BOOST: Pennsylvania will send hundreds of thousands of dollars more to rural counties as part of an increase to what the government pays for state-owned land, a bump local officials say is necessary to keep areas with shrinking populations afloat

Today's second top news story in Pennsylvania.MORE INSIGHT: The public is getting a closer look into the workings of Penn State University thanks to two recent measures — one from the Pennsylvania legislature and the other from university leadership. Advocates who have long called for the university to be more transparent, while cautious, said the changes are steps in the right direction, Spotlight PA State College reports.

Today's third top news story in Pennsylvania.
ABORTION AMENDMENT: Pennsylvania House lawmakers this week heard from doctors and people who have experienced complex pregnancies as they began weighing a proposed amendment that would enshrine the right to abortion in the state constitution. The Capital-Star reports that the amendment is likely to pass the lower chamber, which is controlled by Democrats, though its future in the GOP-controlled state Senate is uncertain.
Today's fourth top news story in Pennsylvania.VACANT SEAT: Democratic state Rep. John Galloway of Bucks County stepped down on Thursday in anticipation of becoming a district judge early next year. That means that Democrats currently have 101 lawmakers in the 203-member chamber. Via Justin Sweitzer of City & State PA, a special election will be held on Feb. 13, 2024.

Today's fifth top news story in Pennsylvania.OFFICER CHARGED: The Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General has charged a Beaver County police officer with involuntary manslaughter, WTAE reports. John Hawk was off-duty when officials say he knocked 48-year-old Kenneth Vinyard to the ground as the latter attempted to provide information about a shooting. Vinyard died from blunt force trauma, a medical examiner later found.
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🏆 PA POP QUIZ: Did you stay on top of the news this week? Prove it with the latest edition of The Great PA News Quiz: Shapiro’s 1st year, Capitol leaks, ‘zombie’ deer, and holiday gift returns.
SPARKS FLY: The state House approved a resolution “recognizing 2023 as the Taylor Swift Era in Pennsylvania" over objections including that the Berks County native moved to Tennessee. 

VIRUS PROTECTION: UPMC will begin requiring masks in all of its facilities on Dec. 20 as the system sees a rise in respiratory illnesses like COVID-19 and RSV.

LIVE WIRE: Via Defector comes this shockingly compelling tale about a telephone pole wire that runs through a new apartment building in Philadelphia. 

AMERICAN HUSTLE: Attention MoCo native and famous person Bradley Cooper: You have an unclaimed check from the Walt Disney Company. (Nonfamous people can also search for unclaimed property here.)

EXTREMELY OVERDUE: A book was recently returned to the Carbondale Public Library that was a whopping 120 years overdue. Without the current $10 cap, the fine would have been around $10,000.
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: Ineffable

Congrats to our daily winners:  Bob. C, Don H., Kimberly D., Heidi G., Stacy S., Beth H., John A., Kim C., Beth T., Jane R., Richard A., Jon W., Elaine C., Barbara F., Susan N., Susan R., Jody A., Tracy S., Vicki U., Nancy S., Christina M., Julie K., Rick W., John P., Lynne E., Michael K., Karen W., Daniel S., Alan B., Ada M., Stanley J., Wendy A., Karyl S., Jeffrey F., William Z., Vanessa J., Craig E., and Starr B. 
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