Pennsylvania Perspective for Thursday, January 18, 2024

January 18, 2024

Pennsylvania

Governor Shapiro’s FY25 Budget Plan Priorities

On Wednesday, Governor Josh Shapiro outlined key priorities for the upcoming budget year, including increased funding for public safety and education, improved accessibility to higher education, expanded support for senior citizens, a renewed push to raise the state’s minimum wage to $15 an hour, and continued investment in vocational-technical education. The annual budget address will take place February 6. PennLive has more.

Governor Shapiro Announces Broadened Eligibility for Property Tax, Rent Rebates

Governor Shapiro announced an increase in the maximum rebate amount for the Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program from $650 to $1,000, along with raised income limits to $45,000, benefiting hundreds of thousands more older adults and individuals with disabilities. Lehigh Valley Live has more.

State House Advances Gun Control Measures

On Wednesday, the House Judiciary Committee advanced gun control measures along party lines, including a proposal to ban sales of automatic and semi-automatic guns, marking the second time they’ve used their majority to push such measures. While the bills have a good chance of passing the Democratic-controlled House, they would face resistance in the Republican-controlled state Senate. WESA has more.

Divided Legislature Means Delayed Constitutional Amendments

Divided control of the Pennsylvania legislature is hindering the advancement of proposed constitutional amendments, with Democrats and Republicans unable to reach a consensus on key issues such as giving survivors of childhood sexual abuse the opportunity to sue their abusers. Spotlight PA has more.

Critics Express Concerns About PASSHE’s Persistent Challenges 

The Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) has faced criticism for not aligning staff numbers with the significant drop in college student enrollment, with a policy brief suggesting that staffing expenses contribute to PASSHE’s ongoing challenges. The Center Square has more.

New Committee to Determine How to Allocate New Public Defense Funding

Pennsylvania’s newly established Indigent Defense Advisory Committee will soon be convened to determine the allocation of the state’s inaugural funding for public defense. WESA has more.

 

Philadelphia

Mayor Parker Welcomes President Biden During MLK Day Visit

Mayor Cherelle Parker discussed federal assistance for public safety, affordable housing, and the opioid crisis with President Joe Biden during his third visit to Philadelphia this year in observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day at Philabundance. The Philadelphia Inquirer has more.

Blame Game Over City’s Failure to Sell Tax-Delinquent Properties Hinders Redevelopment Potential

The Sheriff’s Office has not held an auction of tax-delinquent properties since April 2021, leading to disagreement over who is responsible for this failure and leaving the City’s ability to collect revenue and redevelop blighted land in limbo. The Philadelphia Inquirer has more.

Philadelphia Federation of Teachers President Retiring After 37 Years

Longtime President of the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers Jerry Jordan is retiring after leading the 13,000-member union since 2007. Arthur Steinberg, current president of the American Federation of Teachers Pennsylvania, will succeed him. The Philadelphia Inquirer has more.

Giant Trolls to Bring Sustainability, Environmental Advocacy Message to the Philadelphia Zoo

Colossal troll sculptures by Danish artist Thomas Dambo made of repurposed wood and inspired by Scandinavian folklore will make their East Coast debut at the Philadelphia Zoo in February. The works tell a story about protecting the planet through sustainable practices, with each troll having a unique name, story, and environmental mission. Philadelphia Magazine has more.

 

Pittsburgh

Filling Long-Vacant Health Position Should Be Top Priority for Innamorato Administration, Says Local Coalition

A coalition of 35 organizations and 37 individuals is urging Allegheny County Executive Sara Innamorato to prioritize social determinants of health, equity, and transparency in selecting a health director for the County Health Department, a position which has been vacant for a year. PublicSource has more.

What Pittsburgh’s Tech Leaders Expect to See in 2024

In the local tech space, Pittsburgh founders and executives anticipate trends such as increased emphasis on cybersecurity across industries, expansion of the commercial space industry with more NASA collaborations, integration of robotics into manufacturing to fill workforce gaps, and the use of autonomous ground vehicles in government defense efforts, particularly in navigating challenging terrains at high speeds, with drones and autonomy becoming a priority for soldiers. PublicSource has more.

South Side Business Owners, Police Say Plans to Reduce Violence Are Working

Efforts to reduce violence and disruption on Pittsburgh’s South Side, including the establishment of the South Side Entertainment Patrol, have proven effective, according to Pittsburgh Public Safety officials and local business owners. WESA has more.

 

Federal

President Biden Faces Problem in His Birth State

While President Joe Biden is narrowly leading former President Donald Trump in his birth state of Pennsylvania according to several recently conducted polls, his low approval ratings may prove a challenge for his re-election prospects. Newsweek has more.

Senator Fetterman Asks FTA to Prioritize SEPTA

U.S. Senator John Fetterman and members of the Philadelphia-area congressional delegation are urging the Biden Administration to prioritize SEPTA, which is facing deep service cuts due to a $240 million structural deficit. The Philadelphia Inquirer has more.

Senator Casey Asks GAO to Investigate Harmful Pricing Strategies, Find Ways to Protect Consumers

U.S. Senator Bob Casey has written to Comptroller General Dodaro requesting that the Government Accountability Office (GAO) investigate the impact of corporate greed on American consumers, citing reports on “greedflation” and “shrinkflation” by large corporations that raise prices and reduce product sizes. GoErie has more.

Representative Lee Touts Backing of Top House Democrats as Primary Fight Looms

Democratic U.S. Representative Summer Lee has garnered support from top House Democrats, including New York Congressman Hakeem Jeffries, as she faces a challenging primary contest. WESA has more.

Eight Democrats looking to Unseat Representative Perry Meet in First Candidates’ Forum

Over the weekend, a forum featuring eight Democratic candidates vying to challenge Republican U.S. Representative Scott Perry (PA-10) resulted in widespread consensus on issues including abortion, healthcare, and voting. The Pennsylvania Capital-Star has more.

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