shapiro lifeline scholarships stefano

Stefano: Shapiro can turn his political blunder into a moral good and transform the Democratic Party

Many people viewed Gov. Josh Shapiro as the leader who could transform the Democratic Party and “deliver it from the clutches of the government unions, which have radicalized the party,” wrote Jennifer Stefano, a Philadelphia Inquirer columnist and executive vice president of the Commonwealth Foundation, in her column this week.

“In the span of 24 hours, Gov. Josh Shapiro went from savvy political strategist to inept novice and sellout” by reneging on his promise to support Lifeline Scholarships, she wrote.

Now, “Shapiro is trapped,” Stefano explained. “The unions don’t trust him, and now the Republicans don’t, either. Worse, there are tens of thousands of kids — many of them students of color — trapped in failing schools who are going to be denied an opportunity if Shapiro doesn’t fix this.”

Stefano argues it’s not too late for the governor to make things right:

People familiar with the inner workings of the Democratic caucus, including a Democratic state lawmaker, told me there are anywhere from 15 to 30 House Democrats who would have voted yes on a budget with Lifeline Scholarships before the governor threatened to veto it. That support, I’m told, remains. Some of those “pre-veto threat yes votes” are Democratic members of the Black Caucus, who represent families desperate to get their kids out of failing schools. …

The governor has a clear path toward redemption. The state budget is only half done. If Shapiro steps up as the leader voters expected, he can still negotiate a deal that secures bipartisan support in the House and Senate and deliver Lifeline Scholarships.

If Shapiro doesn’t do this, the Republican Senate is not going to give Shapiro any of his priorities in the final budget. If Shapiro adds in Lifeline Scholarships and increases tax credit scholarship programs, he will not only do a moral good, but also transform the Democratic Party, and quite possibly turn those Reagan Republicans into Shapiro Democrats.

You can read Stefano’s full column here.


The Commonwealth Foundation transforms free-market ideas into public policies so all Pennsylvanians can flourish.