Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf, center, shakes hands with House Speaker Mike Turzai, R-Allegheny, left, as Lt. Gov. John Fetterman looks on after Wolf delivered his budget address for the 2019-20 fiscal year to a joint session of the Pennsylvania House and Senate in Harrisburg, Pa., Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2019.
Emily is a reporter and newsletter producer for statehouse accountability news organization PA Post, and the senior reporter for statewide public media collaboration Keystone Crossroads. She previously covered city hall for PennLive/The Patriot-News (Harrisburg, Pa.) and The Press of Atlantic City, after reporting for the Northwest Herald. She is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania.
From The Context, PA Post’s weekday email newsletter:
Gov. Tom Wolf has released his budget proposal for next year. Now, we analyze.
-Emily Previti, Newsletter Producer/Reporter
Matt Rourke / The Associated Press
House Speaker Mike Turzai, Gov. Tom Wolf, and Lt. Gov. John Fetterman at Wolf’s budget address before the Legislature. Republicans expressed cautious optimism at the governor’s plan, but balked at the proposed spending increases.
Upon its release, Gov. Tom Wolf spoke about his fiscal plan in the state House chamber. The budget address is the governor’s chance to sell his proposal, so context is key here. PA Post’s Ed Mahon provides some in this annotated version of the speech (such as linking a statewide teachers’ salaries database to Wolf’s comments about establishing a $45,000-minimum start rate); and he has an analysis of prospective winners and losers here.
In addition to education, our reporting team focused on possible impacts to health, low-wage earners, public safety and the state’s skilled workforce — and how, exactly, Pennsylvanians are going to cover the $1 billion gap between revenues and expenses laid out in the nearly 900-page budget document. WITF’s Capitol Bureau Chief Katie Meyer pulled it all together in this post.
This proposal reiterates themes from Wolf budgets of the past, including charging a per capita fee for full-time state police coverage in municipalities without local cops. This time, however, Wolf proposes a sliding scale that would generate nearly 70 percent more money. Details and an interactive map are here.
Best of the rest
Reid R. Frazier / StateImpact Pennsylvania
The Clairton Coke Works is one of Allegheny County’s biggest sources of fine particulate pollution.
The state has issued a code orange air quality alert for 20 counties, including six in the midstate and several others in Western Pa. The latter region’s air quality is particularly bad due to a fire at Clairton Coke Works that destroyed the plant’s pollution mitigation infrastructure earlier this winter. The subsequent degradation of air quality had already been making children in nearby communities sick. WESA’s Kathleen Davis has the story.
Pennsylvania State Police have adopted a formal policy on how troopers should handle asking about immigration status. The change comes after a series of investigative reports from ProPublica and the Philadelphia Inquirer, as well as pressure from Wolf.
State game officials might move up the start of deer season a few days — and it’s proving controversial, amid other possible changes to Pennsylvania’s hunting calendar. More details are in this story from WESA’s Anne Danahy.