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|Budget season, Zabel's response, no restitution, impossible choice, dioxin tests, travel problems, post-Senate Toomey, and fish fry finders.|
Gov. Josh Shapiro will deliver his first budget address Tuesday and he's expected to pitch more money for child care and a tax break for teachers, police, and nurses — items that will need to win bipartisan backing.
The Democrat also wants more money for community development programs and tech research. And he may take a stab at making school funding more equitable on the heels of a landmark legal ruling.
Cross-party support is pivotal, and Shapiro has said he's working to build it. His predecessor, Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf, clashed with lawmakers in the General Assembly over his budget ideas and it took nearly nine months to pass a spending plan during his first year in office.
Read Spotlight PA's full report: What to expect from Shapiro's first budget proposal.
THE CONTEXT: After Shapiro lays out his plan, the heads of state departments will begin sitting for hearings with lawmakers on budget priorities, while legislative leaders and the administration will hash out spending and revenue agreements ahead of the June 30 deadline.
As was the case in last year's budget talks, the state's coffers are well-fed thanks to pandemic-era federal aid and a year of strong revenues.
But GOP leaders are once again entering negotiations with possible economic downturns in mind. And Democrats in control of the state House for the first time in more than a decade are looking to advance their agenda.
The Shapiro administration must also deal with this year's rollbacks to two big pandemic-era federal benefits: increased Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits, and continuous enrollment in Medicaid.
Read more: Shapiro admin can do more as rollbacks to food and health benefits loom in Pa., experts say.
|NOTABLE / QUOTABLE|
"I couldn't get any air in. I took a deep breath out, and nothing was coming in."
—Qiyam Ansari in testimony to the Allegheny County Council on a serious medical episode he experienced during an inversion in the Mon Valley
Four scaups, or diving ducks, at the John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge at Tinicum, via Don N. Send us your photos by email, use #PAGems on Instagram, or tag @spotlightpennsylvania.
|NOT RESIGNING: State Rep. Mike Zabel (D., Delaware) says he won't heed calls to resign after a lobbyist accused him of sexual harassment. Zabel said he will seek treatment for an unnamed "illness" and relinquish his Judiciary Committee seat. A Philadelphia-area law firm cut ties with him after the accusation was made. At least two other people have also accused Zabel of inappropriate behavior.|
'COMPUTERGATE': Pennsylvania's Superior Court won't force former GOP state House Speaker John Perzel to pay back the state for "computergate" crimes that saw millions of dollars in taxpayer money used to boost political campaigns via cutting-edge software. PennLive reports an appeal to the state Supreme Court is possible.
'MEDICAL DEPORTATION': Administrators at an Allentown hospital have told the husband of an undocumented woman who is in an induced coma he must either take her home, have her transferred to another facility, or agree to have her deported. Experts told Prism "medical deportations" are illegal, but they still occur commonly.
NEW TESTING: Responding to concerns from lawmakers and residents, the EPA says it will direct Norfolk Southern to test for dioxins in East Palestine. The Allegheny Front reports dioxins can form when burning vinyl chloride — which the company did after a derailment there — and have been linked to health problems including cancer.
BOMB SCARES: State College's University Park Airport was evacuated Friday due to a suspicious package authorities later said was found to contain nothing hazardous. In other news: Bail was denied Marc Muffley of Lansford, the man police say packed explosives on a flight out of Lehigh Valley last week. Muffley disputes the charges.
PRIVATE EQUITY: Former U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey (R., Pa.) is joining the board of the private-equity firm Apollo Global Management after being a friend to the industry during his time in D.C., The Lever reports.
MONEY WIRED: The U.S. Supreme Court has sided with Pennsylvania and other states in a lawsuit accusing Delaware of improperly collecting hundreds of millions of dollars in unclaimed MoneyGrams.
BUILDING PLAN: Amazon's HQ2 project in Virginia is on hold, but the e-commerce giant says it's moving forward (and quickly) with a plan to build a warehouse in Altoona's old General Cable building, WTAJ reports.
THE SPARROW: Patricia Kopta, a Pittsburgh street preacher known as "The Sparrow," has been found alive in Puerto Rico more than 30 years after going missing. Her husband told reporters "this is what she wanted.”
'TIS THE SEASON: It's Lenten fish fry season in Western Pennsylvania. The AP highlights an interactive map from Code for Pittsburgh that helps newcomers find the best spots.
Unscramble and send your answer to firstname.lastname@example.org. We'll shout out winners here, and one each week will get some Spotlight PA swag. Answers submitted by 6 p.m. on issue date will be counted
R U C O I P I C A S
Friday's answer: Sentimentality
Congrats to our weekly winner: Amy Z.
Congrats to our daily winners: Susan N.-Z., Craig W., Becky C., Barbara F., Eric F., Lynne E., Daniel A., Jon W., Don H., Jane R., Elaine C., Lisa H., Ada M., Kimberly D., Dianne K., Dennis M., Bill S., Starr B., Richard A., Kim C., Eddy Z., Joshua V., Wendy A., James B., Paul P., Patricia R., Vicki U., Joel S., David W., and Stanley J.