July 2, 2022
PA budget: Almost there?

State legislators missed the Thursday deadline for passing the budget and canceled their scheduled weekend sessions, so we’re in budget limbo again. Surpluses in state coffers and $2.2 billion in remaining federal stimulus money could make compromise easier than usual, but “it’s very complicated,” House Majority Leader Kerry Benninghoff (R-Centre) told reporters. Differences remain over education funding and charter-school standards, and a clash over fetal-tissue research at the University of Pittsburgh has yet to be resolved. But when the “horse-trading” is finished, the roughly $42 billion budget will likely include more school funding and a cut to the state’s corporate net income tax. 
One way to fix Harrisburg: End the brawling over bills

A City & State PA report on how the General Assembly operates finds that elected leaders disagree not only on issues but also on how legislators pass (and fail to pass) the laws themselves. Republicans cited frustration with executive mandates, directives and regulations, and have introduced scores of amendments to the state constitution that would bypass the governor’s veto pen. Democrats, meanwhile, want to rein in the committee chairs, saying chairs can stall bills they don’t like, even legislation with broad bipartisan support. No wonder that Franklin & Marshall polling finds respondents say the most important problem facing the state was “government and politicians.”
  • Constitutional misuse: Writing in the Penn Capital-Star, Philadelphia Bar Association chancellor Wesley R. Payne IV charges state legislators with “bad faith use of the constitutional amendment process [that] reduces the power of voters under the guise of increasing it.”
  • #FixHarrisburg: Research by Fair Vote and the Bipartisan Policy Center shows Pennsylvania’s legislature has an agenda-fairness score of zero. Sign this petition to demand that bipartisan solutions get a vote in Harrisburg.
Caught Our Eye
Philly primary turnout varies: Philadelphia’s primary turnout, 24% overall, ranged from 6% in Ward 7 in North Philly to 47% in Northwest Philly’s Ward 9. See Billy Penn's interactive map.
On our radar
More election power for state legislators? The U.S. Supreme Court will hear a North Carolina redistricting case that could give state legislatures powers over elections unimpeded by courts, under an "independent legislatures" doctrine.

Threats to Election Workers Are Common. Prosecutions Are Not. The J6 hearings laid bare how threats have terrified some election officials. But, according to The New York Times, a federal pledge to address them has so far come up nearly empty.

Disclosure lapse: An Inquirer investigation found that the Councilmember Kenyatta Johnson failed to disclose rental income, an ethics-code violation he blamed on a paperwork error. His retrial on unrelated federal corruption charges involving financial disclosure and real-estate issues is set for September.

Poll-watcher bill passes, Wolf vows veto: The Legislature passed a bill loosening restrictions on partisan poll watchers, though it faces certain veto by Gov. Wolf according to PennLive.

Clean voter rolls: Writing in Spotlight PA, Denise Clay-Murray of Votebeat catalogs how state and county election officials keep voter rolls “clean and updated.”

Pay up, PPA: Councilmember Helen Gym charged that the Philadelphia Parking Authority isn’t meeting its school-funding obligation and needs further scrutiny over its finances.
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