The state budget. The Senate has approved it. The House has approved it. The Senate is mad at Gov. Josh Shapiro and has no plans to return to session to sign the bill. The fun continues at the state capitol. Here are our Ups and Downs.
Josh Shapiro. The governor got a state budget across the finish line but not without the first major criticism of his actions in office. Education activists are still reeling about his support for “lifeline scholarships” and his perceived willingness to approve school vouchers. Republicans are furious with him for “reneging” for a deal with the Senate GOP leadership.
Bob Casey. Pennsylvania’s senior Senator raised more than $4 million in the last three months — his best fundraising quarter ever — as he awaits a Republican challenger to his reelection bid in the critical battleground state of Pennsylvania, his campaign said Wednesday. Casey’s campaign said the fundraising result beat the previous best quarter of his career by more than $1.2 million.
Kim Ward, Joe Pittman and Scott Martin. The Senate GOP leaders and appropriations chair spoke out about the perceived betrayal by Shapiro on the budget deal. “We negotiated in good faith and were eager to stand with Gov. Shapiro on one of his priority campaign commitments — supporting school choice opportunities. Today, Gov. Shapiro has decided to betray the good-faith agreement we reached, leaving tens of thousands of children across Pennsylvania in failing schools.” The Senate Pro Tempore let her feelings about Gov. Shapiro’s “about-face” on the ‘agreement’ with GOP leadership in a Thursday tweet.
House Democrats. Speaker of the House Joanna McClinton and Majority Leader Matt Bradford came away on the victorious end of the budget deal, as funds for the lifeline scholarship program were nixed at the 11th hour. Bradford said top House Democrats will host joint hearings this summer about proposed school vouchers and existing tax credit programs to improve Pennsylvania students’ educational outcomes.
Dave McCormick. The former CEO of Bridgewater Associates and candidate for the 2022 Republican U.S. Senate nomination received $1 million for his leadership PAC from Jeffrey Yass, the richest man in PA and a GOP mega-donor. “It’s time for Pennsylvania Republicans to start winning again, and we do that by devoting resources to candidates who can bring home a victory this November,” said McCormick.
Richard Houser and Catherine Burns. The two members of the conservative Patriots Organization had their request for a forensic audit of the 2020 general election in Lycoming County dismissed by County Judge Eric R. Linhardt. While Houser and Burns contended there was evidence of fraud, irregularities and violations of the Election Code, Linhardt pointed out there is no provision in the state Election Code compelling the board of elections through an independent third party to conduct the audit that was requested.
Fred Terling. Talk about a no-win situation. The Vice-Chair of the Canonsburg Fourth of July Committee was accused by the Washington County GOP of barring Congressman Guy Reschenthaler and state Sen. Camera Bartolotta from walking in the holiday parade. Parade organizers updated their bylaws in 2021 to read, “The only politicians that will be invited to participate in the 4th of July Parade will be the Mayor and Council members of Canonsburg.” Terling noted that as a 501 (c)(3), there can be no ‘political campaigning” in the parade.
Carol Schaffling. U.S. District Judge Harvey Bartle has ordered a trial in the case of Schaffling who alleges she was fired for being a Democrat while working for Bucks County Recorder of Deeds Daniel McPhillips, a member of the GOP Party who won that row office in 2021. McPhillips has argued in legal depositions that he didn’t know Schaffling was a Democrat. Yet the judge, in refusing to dismiss the case, described McPhillips’ testimony as “totally contradicted by other evidence.”
Keith Leaphart. The Philadelphia physician, entrepreneur, and philanthropist was appointed to the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission by Governor Josh Shapiro and attended his first meeting as a commissioner on Thursday. “To me, this position is all about service — service to customers, employees, and other stakeholders. It’s about being thoughtful and making the right decisions.”