Commentary

Poll: Pa. should use stim funds to help low-income Black, Brown & white households | Monday Morning Coffee

June 21, 2021 7:13 am

(Capital-Star photo by John L. Micek)

Good Monday Morning, Fellow Seekers.
When representatives of the Poor People’s Campaign rallied on the steps of the state Capitol earlier this month calling for a ‘just’ budget that prioritized the needs of Pennsylvania’s most vulnerable residents ahead of its most powerful, the temptation to dismiss those demands as typical progressive boilerplate may have been a strong one for some.

But a new poll, released late last week by the Pennsylvania Budget Policy Center, points the way toward bipartisan support for a list of priorities that the progressive think-tank hopes that lawmakers will heed as the formal sprint toward approving a new state budget kicks off today.

As the Capital-Star has previously reported, the Republican-controlled General Assembly and the Democratic Wolf administration will have as much as $10 billion in excess funds at their disposal as they try to reach agreement on a budget deal for the fiscal year that begins July 1. More than $7 billion of that total comes from federal stimulus money.

Nearly six in 10 respondents to the poll (57 percent) said they wanted policymakers to focus on investing more in the state and its residents. About a third of all Republican respondents (34 percent) agreed with that sentiment, according to the poll, while six in 10 women respondents (61 percent) and two-thirds of Black respondents (65 percent) agreed with that sentiment.

(Source: Pennsylvania Budget & Policy Center).

Broadly, respondents wanted policymakers to focus on:

  • Funding low-interest loans for small businesses
  • Funding measures to end homelessness
  • Providing grants to offset taxes for working people with low incomes.
  • Investing in low-income White, Black and Brown communities hit hardest by the pandemic
  • Ensuring that everyone can afford housing.
  • Providing hazard pay for front-line workers.
  • Providing food assistance to those in need.
  • Reducing inequality in public schools.

As the Capital-Star also has previously reported, Democrats in the state House and Senate each have rolled out their own plans to spend the money, while Republicans have remained more muted in their plans.

But the GOP’s approach is a mistake, Marc Stier, the think-tank’s executive director, warned.

“This poll clearly demonstrates that a strong majority of Pennsylvanians want American Rescue Plan funds to be spent on the Pennsylvanians most in need and to reduce the inequality that the pandemic revealed,” Stier said.

(c) 3desc – Stock.Adobe.com

The poll also took a look at the election reform issues now percolating in the General Assembly.

Last weekHouse State Government Committee Chairman Seth Grove, R-York, rolled out a sweeping reform bill that would broadly rewrite and modernize state election law; by increasing restrictions on ballot drop off boxes; decreasing the amount of time voters have to register to vote and request mail-in ballots; and requiring Pennsylvanians to show ID every time they vote, the Capital-Star’s Stephen Caruso reported.

Pollsters say they found opposition to the GOP’s rewrite plans, with:

  • 69 percent opposing eliminating the option for voters to vote in-person at satellite voting locations throughout their county.
  • 79 percent opposing eliminating the rule that allows all ballots that are postmarked by Election Day to be counted.
  • 60 percent opposing eliminating the option for voters to return mail-in ballots at a dropbox.

The results conflict with a separate, Franklin & Marshall College poll released last week that found Pennsylvanians supporting a major rewrite of the state’s election law.

“Pennsylvania is following the dangerous example of other states hell-bent on restricting the freedom to vote — particularly for voters of color,” Carmen López, the senior democracy director for SiX, a progressive think-tank, said in a statement. “This research shows just how much Pennsylvanians appreciate accessible voting options and how out-of-step the Majority is in rolling back access.”

Conducted from June 2 to June 7, the PBPC canvass sampled the opinions of 1,348 Pennsylvania adults who said they were registered to vote, for an overall margin of error of 3.1 percent.

(Image via pxHere.com)

Our Stuff.
In this week’s edition of The Numbers RacketCassie Miller dives into some data hammering home one of the great inequities of the pandemic: We were all being asked to go to work and go to school from home — but not all of us could afford a broadband connection to do it.

Confronted by Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf’s veto pen, Stephen Caruso explains why legislative Republicans are increasingly looking to amend the state Constitution to get their way on election reform proposals.

Endangered species will get a reprieve under President Joe Biden’s conservation plan, Capital-Star Washington Correspondent Allison Winter reports.

Republicans Sean Parnell, of Pittsburgh, and Kathy Barnette, of Huntingdon Valley, both candidates vying for retiring U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey’s, R-Pa., seat, are the latest Pennsylvania politicians to take a page out of former President Donald Trump’s financing playbook — one that automatically signs donors up for monthly donationsMarley Parish reports.

On our Commentary Page this morning, a Rutgers University scholar says Gov. Tom Wolf and lawmakers can’t wait any longer to boost Pennsylvania’s minimum wage. And when it comes to the war on American democracy, journalists can’t afford to be neutral, opinion regular Dick Polman argues.

En la Estrella-Capital: ‘Una oportunidad única en la vida’: los Demócratas de la Cámara de Representantes y el Senado quieren usar el dinero del estímulo para abordar el plomo y el asbesto en escuelas de Pa. Y ‘Nos estamos quedando sin tiempo’: El Senado avanza la legislación para hacer permanentes los cocteles para llevar.

Philadelphia City Hall (Image via pxHere.com)

Elsewhere.
The Inquirer
 has what you need to know about the budget deal between Mayor Jim Kenney and Philadelphia City Council.
Pittsburgh’s Black leaders see a sign of hope if state Rep. Ed Gainey, D-Alleghenybecomes the city’s first Black mayor, the Post-Gazette reports.
PennLive previews the save it or spend it dilemma confronting state budget writers (paywall).
With less than a third of Lancaster County’s bridges in good conditionLancasterOnline explains how the Biden infrastructure plan could help.
Lehigh Valley bar owners aren’t fanas of a bill now before the Legislature that would allow them to extend last call to 4 a.m., the Morning Call reports.
The Citizens’ Voice looks at how area school districts are trying to cope with a year of lost learning.
USA Today’s Pennsylvania Capital Bureau looks at what’s next for anti-abortion rights and gun rights bills before the General Assembly (paywall).

Here’s your #Harrisburg Instagram of the Day:

 

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A Philadelphia doctor made the vax mandatory — he lost seven employeesWHYY-FM reports.
Spotlight PA has what you need to know about the troubles at PSERS (via WITF-FM).
The Observer-Reporter profiles a community of Haitian refugees in Charleroi, Pa.
PoliticsPA has last week’s winners and losers in state politics.
Stateline.org looks at how southern states are dealing with a vaccine gap.
Roll Call 
has last week’s hits and misses on Capitol Hill.

What Goes On
The House comes in at 12 p.m. today, the Senate convenes at 1 p.m. Here’s a look at the day’s committee action.
11 a.m., 8E-B East Wing: Senate Banking & Insurance Committee
11 a.m., Senate Chamber: Senate Health & Human Services Committee
12 p.m., Hearing Room 1, North Office Building: Senate Veterans Affairs & Emergency Preparedness Committee
Off the Floor, Senate Chamber: Senate Appropriations Committee
Off the Floor, Senate Chamber: Senate Finance Committee
Call of the Chair, 140 MC: House Appropriations Committee
Call of the Chair, 205 Ryan: House Aging & Adult Services Committee

What Goes On (Nakedly Political Edition)
5:30 p.m.: Reception for the East Central House Republican Committee. Admission runs $300 to $1,000.

WolfWatch
Gov. Tom Wolf has no public schedule today.

You Say It’s Your Birthday Dept
Have a birthday you’d like observed in this space? Email us on [email protected].

Heavy Rotation.
In addition to being an in-demand actor and talented director, Idris Elba cranks out club bangers in his spare time. Here’s his newest track, a collaboration with Eliza Legzdina. It’s’ ‘Fudge.’

Monday’s Gratuitous Hockey Link.
Vegas rallied in OT on Sunday to beat Montreal 2-1
. The series is even at two games apiece.

And now you’re up to date.

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John L. Micek
John L. Micek

A 3-decade veteran of the news business, John L. Micek is the Pennsylvania Capital-Star's Editor-in-Chief. An award-winning political reporter, Micek’s career has taken him from small town meetings and Chicago City Hall to Congress and the Pennsylvania Capitol. His weekly column on U.S. politics is syndicated to 800 newspapers nationwide by Cagle Syndicate. He also contributes commentary and analysis to broadcast outlets in the U.S., Canada and the U.K. Micek’s first novel, “Ordinary Angels,” was released in 2019 by Sunbury Press.

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