Pennsylvania’s new $25M problem

  • Emily Previti

If you’re heading to the beach this weekend, one U.S. senator wants you to remember — beware the umbrellas! -Emily Previti, Newsletter Producer/Reporter

‘To prioritize the institution over the human being’

Matt Rourke / The Associated Press

FILE PHOTO: The dome of the Pennsylvania Capitol is visible in Harrisburg.

  • The state’s General Assistance program stopped granting money to enrollees as of yesterday. About 11,000 financially vulnerable Pennsylvanians got $200 a month through the program. Legal aid groups tried in vain to keep the funds flowing while their challenge to the program’s repeal plays out in court. The lawsuit, meanwhile, puts Gov. Tom Wolf’s administration “in the awkward position of having to defend” something that he actually opposes, Katie Meyer explains in this PA Post story.

  • Wolf faced a similar situation when he took office in 2015 and inherited the state’s attempt to force all public schools in the city of York to convert to charters. Predecessor Tom Corbett had installed a recovery officer in the financially distressed district, who ultimately presided over the chain of events that led to school and state education officials facing off in court. I covered this story pretty closely (spoiler: the Dept. of Ed. lost). You can listen to an audio montage of highlights here.

  • Perhaps Wolf will try to make up for the loss of General Assistance support by working through the newly created Office of Advocacy and Reform to develop best practices for helping vulnerable populations and partnering with county governments to improve existing support systems. Wolf got the initiative going this week with an executive order, Katie reports.

Best of the rest

Keith Srakocic / AP Photo

In this Sept. 26, 2012 file photo, a man heads into the the PennDOT Drivers License Center in Butler, Pa.

  • Pennsylvanians will have a gender-neutral choice on their driver’s licenses starting next year. Thirteen states already offer the option, according to the National Center for Transgender Equality.

  • The Pennsylvania Army National Guard boarded up 18 properties in Shamokin this week as part of an effort to address blight in the distressed Northumberland County city. The Daily Item’s Eric Scicchitano has a story and photos from day one of the National Guard anti-drug task force’s “Clean and Seal” initiative.

  • Malvern-based PQ Corporation will pay a $750,000 fine for violations over the past six years at its plant in Chester, Delaware County. The facility makes sodium silicate for hair dye, cleaning products and water treatment systems, writes Emily Pontecorvo in this StateImpact Pennsylvania story.

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