The Update: What’s Happening in Harrisburg and DC — November 15, 2021



In Washington, President Biden just signed the bipartisan infrastructure law. Read more here about what it will do for Pennsylvania. Harrisburg was also busy last week with issues such as school funding and democracy. Read more below to catch up on what is going on and how you can engage.

In Solidarity,

Stephen Herzenberg
Executive Director

MEMO: PA House Bill 1800 Is Voter Suppression and Its Amendments Are Shameful

The Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center opposes nearly all the provisions of HB 1800 and urges members of the House to vote against it.

We evaluate the legislative proposals about elections with three criteria in mind:

First, they should make voting easier and more accessible for the people of Pennsylvania.

Second, while they should preserve the security of our elections, they should not include security features that are unnecessary or that make voting less accessible.

And third, they should provide sufficient funds to the county governments that administer our elections. Sufficient funding for our elections would resolve most of the technical problems with elections in Pennsylvania today.

By these standards, HB 1800 is not genuine election reform at all.

Read more.

Speaker Cutler’s Attack on the Principles of the Founding Fathers

By Marc Stier

The State Government Committee of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives plans to take up two proposed constitutional amendments proposed by Speaker Cutler that are a direct and serious attack on the Pennsylvania Constitution and the entire framework of government designed by the founders of our country. Indeed, it is hard to think of any constitutional proposal that so directly and radically breaks with the wisdom of those who created the Constitution of the United States and whose work inspired the constitutions of our fifty states. While the constitution of every state is somewhat unique, every one of them enshrines the principle of the separation of power and the checks and balances in the institutions of government they create. Speaker Cutler’s amendments directly attack those principles.

Read more.

A Stronger Appalachian Regional Commission Vital to Economic Progress

By Ted Boettner and Stephen Herzenberg for ReImagine Appalachia

In the final step of federal infrastructure debates, an opportunity exists to provide additional funding to ARC. Congress could incorporate in the omnibus Build Back Better Act the substance of a bipartisan bill introduced by Pennsylvania Representative Conor Lamb (PA-17) and Kentucky Representative David McKinley (WV-01), the REPOWER Act (Resources to Expand Partnerships for Opportunity and Workforce and Economic Revitalization Act). This would provide $1 billion more over five years for ARC “POWER” grants, which provide federal resources to help communities affected by job losses in the coal industry. That $200 million per year is a modest amount compared to the $600 million per year reduction over time in annual funding of ARC through the budget—and even more modest compared to $2.5 billion per year.

Read more.


Build Back Better (BBB) legislation is moving to a vote in the U.S. House in the next few days, so your representative needs to hear from you NOW! The bill presents a historic opportunity to make unprecedented investments in high-quality, universal pre-K; good-paying jobs; more affordable health care; housing; childcare and higher education; and broadly shared economic security.

Tell your member of Congress to vote for the BBB bill! If your representative has been championing the BBB agenda from the beginning, be sure to say thanks!

Click here to take action!



Biden signs $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill, fulfilling campaign promise and notching achievement that eluded Trump
Washington Post

“President Biden on Monday signed a sweeping $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill to upgrade the nation’s roads, bridges, water systems and broadband, touting the measure’s passage as evidence for his insistence that bipartisanship can work even in a bitterly polarized time.”

Infrastructure measure is good for Pennsylvania

Opinion | Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

“The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act is an opportunity for Pennsylvania and the nation to accomplish big things. It’s time to stop arguing and get to work on it.”

Pennsylvania’s education funding lawsuit finally headed to trial

CBS 21

“Marc Stier, Director of the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center, said at the same time, funding is low at schools across the state. The government’s cheapness is hitting low-income rural and urban schools, as well as Black and Hispanic districts the hardest, and he fears if something isn’t done the success gap will widen.

‘Only 16 percent of school districts spend enough per student to provide an adequate education, but the inequity is even worse if you look at the quarter of schools with the highest share of students living in poverty, the funding gap is $2,802 per student,’ said Stier. ‘That is a huge gap, one of the worst in the country, and we all suffer as a result.'”

To watch the proceedings of the lawsuit live click here.


Pennsylvania School Funding trial begins today

Fox 56

“Marc Stier: ‘We need the state to find the money from the richest Pennsylvanians who are not paying their fair share of taxes.’

Pennsylvania’s educational inequality currently leads the nation.”

Casey aims to make expanded child tax credit permanent

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

“Marc Stier, director of the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center, says the ‘social security for our children’ could make eligible an additional 892,000 children in Pennsylvania.

The Washington-based Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, an advocate for making the tax credit permanent, estimates 4.1 million children across the U.S. were lifted out of poverty by the program’s temporary expansion.”