Harrisburg, Pa., August 8, 2023 –Gov. Josh Shapiro has overseen the least productive freshman legislative session in at least 50 years, a new Commonwealth Foundation analysis has found. In the first six months of his tenure, Shapiro signed just 15 bills into law—far fewer than any other Pennsylvania governor in recent history.
While a divided government is common in Pennsylvania, Shapiro has largely failed to navigate bipartisan bills through the statehouse during his first year in office. The 15 bills he enacted—the majority being appropriation bills—represent about one-sixth the average number of bills (86) passed by previous freshman governors through the end of July.
Commonwealth Foundation Director of Policy Analysis Elizabeth Stelle said intransigence in Harrisburg reflects a lack of leadership in the governor’s mansion.
“Gov. Shapiro pledged to deliver a new leadership style to Harrisburg, but so far, this style has been defined by legislative dysfunction and the abandonment of commonsense reforms,” Stelle said. “Shapiro’s ‘freshman 15’ has failed to address economic stagnation, out-of-control spending, or education.”
Even the bills that Shapiro has managed to sign into law have been marked by controversy. The governor signed his first budget into law weeks after the deadline. He could only do so by breaking his promise to deliver bipartisan education reforms—Lifeline Scholarships—that would have given families in Pennsylvania’s worst-performing schools the ability to attend other institutions. The budget battle, however, only brought legislative dysfunction into the spotlight.
Despite passing just one of the many bills needed to complete the state budget, House Democrat leaders took a summer vacation, adjourning until late September. House Democrats are on track to hold only 45 total voting sessions in 2023—the lowest total since 1964.
“At a time when voters are demanding leadership and bipartisanship, Shapiro has chosen to pass the buck rather than legislation,” Stelle said.
View the full Commonwealth Foundation analysis here.
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