Pennsylvania Perspective for Thursday, June 13, 2024

June 13, 2024


Gov. Shapiro Intends to Eliminate State’s “Emergency” Waiting List

Governor Josh Shapiro’s proposed budget includes $483 million to eliminate the waitlist on which nearly 6,000 Pennsylvanians with intellectual disabilities wait for care. The governor would allocate the funds directly to professionals who provide such services. The increased funding would increase care providers’ wages from $15 to $17 per hour. WESA has more.

Democratic, Republican Higher Education Plans Compete for Legislative Support

Gov. Shapiro’s higher education plan would introduce a performance-based funding program, essentially combining state and community colleges under the same funding jurisdiction. The Republican-led Senate passed its own version of the package Monday, which would establish post-secondary education financial incentives for students who want to seek further academic schooling or career training. LancasterOnline has more.

“Momnibus” Program Currently in the Works

PA’s Black Maternal Health Caucus proposed a public health insurance plan that Gov. Shapiro might consider combining with his own public health investment package in upcoming budget negotiations. The caucus’s proposal will provide birth and postpartum services, along with care kits to new and existing mothers. PA has more.

State Lawmakers Aim to Prevent Sudden University Closures

Following the sudden closure of University of the Arts (UArts) in Philadelphia, state Representatives Ben Waxman (D-Philadelphia) and Bob Merski (D-Erie), are proposing new measures for accountability and transparency in higher education institutions to prevent future abrupt closures. The Philadelphia Inquirer has more.

ACLU Sues Commonwealth Over “Insufficient” Indigent Defense Funding

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has filed a lawsuit against the Commonwealth, arguing that the state’s “insufficient” funding for public defenders deprives citizens of their constitutional rights. Last year marked the first time indigent defense was included in the state budget. The Philadelphia Inquirer has more.

Mail-in Ballot Request Process Underway in PA

Opening two months prior to last year’s date, Pennsylvania’s mail-in ballot registration portal is now active. Voters can request mail-in ballots until October 29 for the November 5 general election. Officials recommend requesting ballots early to ensure that voters have adequate time to complete and submit them ahead of Election Day. WITF has more.

Shapiro Admin Initiates Small Business Improvement Program

The Department of General Services recently announced the governor’s small business initiative, which is geared to empower state-based small businesses to acquire products through Amazon Business. The initiative comes as part of the governor’s plan to foster economic development and diversity in Pennsylvania’s supply chain. Lehigh Valley Business has more.

PA Turnpike Toll Booth Replacements Forthcoming

The Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission recently authorized a $50 million plan to replace the turnpike’s traditional toll booths with overhead gantries. expected to be completed in 2027, the improved infrastructure will suspend scanning equipment above the road, so all drivers can pay their tolls without having to slow down. The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review has more.



City Council Passes FY25 Budget, Nonprofit Contracting Bill

During its last regular meeting before summer recess, City Council unanimously passed the FY25 City Budget. Council also approved a bill requiring competitive bidding for City contracts with nonprofits. The Philadelphia Inquirer has more.

New PPD Dispatches Imminent in Kensington

The Philadelphia Police Department (PPD) vowed to send 75 new academy graduates to Kensington in the next week. As part of Mayor Cherelle Parker’s initiative to boost neighborhood safety, Police Commissioner Kevin Bethel indicated that arrests will prominently focus on addressing “open-air drugs.” WHYY has more.

Understaffed & Behind: Philadelphia L&I Delayed on Building Repairs

The Department of Licenses and Inspections (L&I) blames lack of staffing and inadequate resources for falling behind on building demolitions and renovations. The department has identified 4,000 city buildings in need of repair; 120 of which require urgent attention. Philly Voice has more.



PPS to Hold Several Town Halls About Academic Buildings Proposals 

With Pittsburgh Public Schools (PPS) initiating substantial building changes to the academic footprint, school board consultants solicited advice from Education Resource Strategies Inc. in fostering community feedback discussions. Congruently, the school board has scheduled ten town halls throughout the summer to identify hurdles in addressing proposed building improvements. WESA has more.

Bikeshare Pittsburgh Installs New Adaptive Bikes at Hazelwood Trailhead  

The Eliza Furnace Trailhead in Hazelwood now has seven new operational adaptive bikes ready for use. Pittsburgh’s bikeshare program, POGOH, will offer side-by-side, adult, and hand tricycles, along with tandem, cargo, recumbent, and low-step through bicycles. WESA has more.

Future of Penn Hills Neighborhood Uncertain  

Over the last century, Black Pittsburghers moved from the Hill District to Penn Hills, transforming it into a thriving Black suburb. However, its future is now uncertain, as the neighborhood faces challenges of disinvestment and erasure of the community’s rich history. PublicSource has more.

Following Fern Hollow Bridge Repair, Environmentalists Turn Attention to Creek Below

Nearly a year after Pittsburgh’s Fern Hollow Bridge replacement was completed, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and environmental nonprofit UpstreamPgh are studying the valley’s ecosystem to develop restoration plans aimed at enhancing Fern Hollow Creek’s flow, water quality, and habitat diversity. WESA has more.



Presidential Projections Indicate a November Nailbighter

FiveThirtyEight’s most recent model of the 2024 Presidential Race shows President Joe Biden obtaining Pennsylvania’s electoral votes 57 out of 100 times and former President Donald Trump slightly behind, winning 43 out of 100 times. Despite Trump polling ahead in most swing states, the national model mirrored PA’s chances. PoliticsPA has more.

PA Voter Registration Numbers Out

County-based voter registrations for each of Pennsylvania’s 17 congressional districts have been published. While registered Democrats outpace registered Republicans in Philadelphia, neighboring districts remain fairly evenly matched. PoliticsPA has more.

Rep. Houlahan Urges Speaker Johnson to Reverse House Intel Appointment

U.S. Representative Chrissy Houlahan (D-PA-6) has requested that House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) reconsider his appointees to the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, including Representative Scott Perry (R-PA-10), who is currently under federal investigation for purportedly being a key architect of the January 6 Capitol Insurrection. The Pennsylvania Capital-Star has more.

Running for PA-10, Living in PA-11

Democratic Congressional candidate Janelle Stelson currently resides in Lancaster County, which sits in Pennsylvania’s 11th Congressional District. However, Stelson aims to secure the congressional seat up for grabs in Pennsylvania’s 10th District. Running against six-term incumbent Rep. Perry, Stelson said that she will move to PA-10 if constituents vote her in. PennLive has more.

President Biden Nominates PA Federal Prosecutor for U.S. District Court Judge

President Biden has nominated Mary Kay Costello, a federal prosecutor and Temple University alum, for the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. The Philadelphia Inquirer has more.


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