Sep. 12, 2023

By: Rep. Craig Staats (R-Bucks)
I was, I think along with many of you, at least hopeful with the tone of Gov. Josh Shapiro’s February budget address to our state. The governor promised greater unity in our government, pledging he would personally help bridge the gap between our divided legislature. Sadly, Gov. Shapiro has not held up his end of the bargain on a promise he made.

First, there was his broken promise on Lifeline Scholarships. Senate Republicans, in good faith with the governor, negotiated a budget that gave the governor much of what he wanted in the budget. In exchange, the governor promised $100 million would be given to Lifeline Scholarships. Lifeline Scholarships would provide an Education Opportunity Account (EOA) to students who reside in a district that is in the bottom 15% of performance. These EOA’s would go directly to the students and provide help to parents in finding the best school possible for their children. This program is something I have supported and will continue to support in the future, because I know it will get students the best education they deserve.

However, instead of standing strong for students, the governor bent to pressure from teachers’ unions and House Democrats to line-item veto that $100 million dollars for the scholarships. Instead of bridging that gap and bringing all sides to the table, Gov. Shapiro took the easy way out, and chose to leave students behind.

Similarly, Gov. Shapiro has recently announced he will end the contract with Real Alternatives, a crisis pregnancy organization, that helps women through their pregnancy, with counseling, free pregnancy self-test kits, temporary shelter, parenting classes and multiple other helpful services. Because Planned Parenthood has declared Real Alternatives as an “anti-abortion” organization, Gov. Shapiro has again unilaterally bent to special interest groups, and has decided to end funding for this great program that supported future mothers across Pennsylvania. I remember when the Democrat Party stood for “safe, legal and rare” when it came to abortion. That no longer seems to be the case.

Gov. Shapiro, with these two decisions, has shown that instead of being a governor who brings our Legislature together, would rather bend to special interest groups and what they want, instead of what is best for Pennsylvania and its citizens.