An update on the state budget impasse | Five for the Weekend – Pennsylvania Capital-Star
Happy weekend, all.
More than two weeks into the 2023-24 fiscal year, Pennsylvania is still without finished spending plan.
The impasse, caused by disagreement over a proposal to fund private school tuition vouchers with taxpayer dollars, is still ongoing, and with lawmakers not scheduled to return to Harrisburg until mid-September, shows no signs of progress any time soon.
Capital-Star Reporters Marley Parish and Peter Hall detail what the ongoing impasse means for state and local programs that depend on state dollars to fund their operations and important initiatives.
What a perfect holiday-week news story, the equivalent of a brainless summer movie.
Some clown recently left a small baggie of cocaine in the White House visitors area, thus inspiring various clowns in the MAGA cult (especially the twice-indicted clown) to froth at the mouth. Suddenly they’re all concerned about “security,” which would be laughable if it were not so detestable, given how they were fine with their thugs beating up on Jan. 6 and smearing feces on Capitol corridor walls.
A decade ago, on the eve of the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg, there was a phenomenal program of authors and speakers to set the strategic and cultural context for the events of July 1 to July 3, 1863.
I watched a great deal of the program on CSPAN3. A closing segment of the cable broadcast featured callers from across the United States. A California woman remarked there was little to no attendance by African-Americans for the day’s commemorative event. She asked “why not?” since the battle and the war led to their freedom from slavery.
As a young boy growing up in Cleveland, Ohio in the 1960s, I had no awareness of the American Civil War.
I did know that I was Black in America and there was a difference in how we expected to be treated when visiting our grandparents “down South” in Alabama.
Pennsylvania schools could hire retired teachers as substitutes under a bill passed by the state House on Thursday that makes a pandemic-era law giving some flexibility to address the staffing crisis permanent.
Lawmakers in the lower chamber unanimously voted to approve legislation introduced by Rep. James Struzzi, R-Indiana, that continues letting schools hire retired educators as substitute teachers on an emergency or short-term basis — an allowance initially passed by the Legislature and signed by then-Gov. Tom Wolf in 2021 but expired at the end of the most recent academic year.
“Act 91 of 2021 gave schools flexibility regarding the shortage of day-to-day substitute teachers,” Struzzi said. “It dealt with employing annuitants, prospective teachers, and graduates of educator preparation programs as substitutes, something we should continue to do since the shortage still exists.”
The state House voted 117-86 to pass a proposed $45.5 billion state budget late Wednesday, sending the spending plan to Democratic Gov. Josh Shapiro’s desk for a signature.
In a statement following Wednesday’s vote, Shapiro said he was proud of the final budget, calling it a “statement of our priorities.”
“Pennsylvania is the only state in the nation with a full-time, divided legislature – meaning nothing gets done unless it can make it through our Republican-led Senate and our Democratic-led House. I’m proud that this budget – one that makes historic investments in public education, public safety, workforce development, agriculture, and economic development – passed both the House and Senate, and I look forward to signing it.”
Even with a Democratic majority in the state House and a governor who included legalized adult-use marijuana in his future budget projections, the commonwealth is no closer to creating a regulated recreational cannabis market.
Pennsylvania remains one of the only states in the region not to have established or be in the process of debating weed legalization. Neighboring states, including New York and New Jersey have fully established adult-use recreational markets. To the south, Delaware and Maryland’s state legislatures recently passed measures to begin regulating, licensing and taxing for cannabis sales.
And that’s the week. We’ll see you back here next week.