Why is everyone texting Pennsylvania Gov. Josh Shapiro?

Schools, jobs, taxes, tuition and health are the top reasons people are texting Pennsylvania Gov. Josh Shapiro.
Pennsylvania Gov. Josh Shapiro
Pennsylvania Gov. Josh Shapiro greets people at the Commemoration Ceremony on the fifth anniversary of the Tree of Life synagogue attack on October 27, 2023 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Justin Merriman / Getty Images)

Last fall, Pennsylvania unveiled a Community number for Gov. Josh Shapiro, giving the public a way to send him SMS texts and receive responses to their questions and comments. 

Shapiro’s number — 717-788-8990 — is powered by Community, a service that connects elected officials, businesses, public figures and sports teams — from NASCAR to LL Cool J — to their audiences through unique 10-digit phone numbers. President Joe Biden launched a Community number in 2022. New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy has one, too.

But what are people texting Shapiro about? And, as one person texted Shapiro, “Who reads these texts?”

Manuel Bonder, a spokesperson for the Shapiro administration, said the governor is receiving the texts and using commonly mentioned topics to guide his executive actions.


“By prioritizing economic opportunity and access to higher education, making historic investments in public education, supporting law enforcement and public safety, ensuring people receive the care they need, and funding critical initiatives to help Pennsylvanians from our cities to our farmlands – the Governor will continue to deliver real results for the Commonwealth,” Bonder said in a statement emailed to StateScoop. “These issues are reflected in the responses the Governor is receiving on Community and to the messages he’s sending out to Pennsylvanians, letting them know he’s working on the issues they care about.”

To find out what kinds of things people are texting the Pennsylvania governor, StateScoop obtained through a public records request all of the text messages sent to and from Shapiro’s Community number in the first month after it launched in September. In StateScoop’s data analysis of 109,307 non-unique words sent and received by the number between between last Sept. 15 and Oct. 15, several common topics jumped out: schools, jobs, taxes, tuition and health.

1. Schools

Taking the top spot is “schools” or “school” — mentioned a combined total of 1,609 times. Residents texted Shapiro primarily about public schools, often asking for more funding and a reevaluation of the state’s school voucher program. “Vouchers” were mentioned 313 times.

“Hi Governor Shapiro, please do not renew your plan to use a voucher system to fund private schools with public money. Help the PA public schools instead so that EVERYONE can get a quality education and not think they have to go to a private school to get that,” one resident texted Shapiro on Sept. 16.


Many thanked Shapiro for establishing a universal free breakfast program for all school-aged kids in Pennsylvania. 

Many others complained about the funding model for the state’s public schools, which are partially funded by property taxes. A handful of homeowners complained about paying them despite not having school-aged children, and others lamented bearing the brunt of the cost for public schools, while those who live in apartments don’t pay property taxes.

2. Jobs/work

The second-most popular topic is the workforce. “Job,” “jobs” and “work” were mentioned 910 times. Several residents asked Shapiro about the lack of employment opportunities for felons.

“I feel there should be more help for felons!” one Sept. 16 text reads. “10 years ago when I was released from prison there was jobs everywhere but now I can’t pass a so called (background check) if my life depended on it. In other states felons can get some government jobs but not in Pennsylvania!!”


Some texted Shapiro about the challenges of a high cost of living, despite working two or more jobs. Others asked the governor to support state funding for child care.

“Governor Shapiro, PA needs to support the child care industry so we can stay open and PA residents can work,” someone texted on Sept. 29.

Residents asked about how to meet the requirements for collecting unemployment insurance. Some claimed they’ve filed for unemployment after losing their jobs, yet haven’t received any support.

“I lost my job. I have filled for unemployment I have not received any money. My car insurance has as expired and my driver’s license is about to expire and I have no money at all,” one resident texted on Sept. 15. “My son is the only one who is working and he only makes 900$ a month this is the only money we have coming in.”

3. Taxes 


“Tax,” “taxes” and “taxpayer” were mentioned 522 times.

Many Pennsylvanians used Shapiro’s Community number to share ways that steep taxes were harming their ability to make ends meet. Complaints about the impact of the taxes on seniors were especially common.

“I am a 75 year old widow trying to live on SS,” one resident texted Shapiro on Oct. 12. “My taxes this year were $4000… Taxes on top of high food prices etc are making it very hard to do it. Please try to do something about taxes for older senior.”

Other residents offered solutions to make up lost revenue if school property taxes were to be removed.

“Is there anything new happening about trying to get rid of school property taxes? I would rather pay a higher income tax and sales tax. Please do something about this. Also, what about legalizing Marijuana, maybe we can get extra funds from this as well,” someone texted on Oct. 14.


4. Tuition 

“Tuition” was mentioned 475 times. Many identified themselves as parents of children attending private schools and asked about tuition assistance.

“Good Morning, I am inquiring about school choice. I am a single mother my son attends a elementary catholic school in Philadelphia. He is getting ready attend high school next year. I fear I am not going to be able to send him the tuition is $10,000. Can you Lmk your plan. Thank you!” an Oct. 7 text read.

Others asked Shapiro to not support the state’s tuition voucher program.

“State tax dollars should not support private and religious schools. They should support public schools. I support public school vouchers with limitations, such as a limit of one transfer if both schools agree. Gov. Shapiro, please don’t support private school tuition voucher schemes. My tax dollars should not go for an idea or belief I may not agree with,” an Oct. 12 text read.


5. Health

“Healthcare” and “health” were mentioned 368 times. Several residents asked about the high price of health insurance and the wait times between making an appointment and seeing a provider.

“Mental” health terms were mentioned 255 times, making it the most frequently mentioned type of health concern. Many residents mentioned the national mental health crisis and some residents asked the governor what he was doing to address it. Others asked for more funding for mental health care initiatives.

“Mental health resources are scarce… we need to make health insurance coverage is more adequate and professionals more plentiful. There are policies that government can enact to make it so!” an Oct. 11 text read.

Many residents applauded Shapiro’s efforts to address health issues, which include an executive order he signed last October to improve the delivery of mental health care services. Some said the efforts are still falling short of addressing the problem.


“I’m glad you are prioritizing mental health. I still think its highly inaccessible though,” an Oct. 13 text read. “I live in the Southwestern portion of the Commonwealth and its extremely rural which creates a barrier for finding an affordable therapist. The closest clinic is 25 minutes away but is not accepting new patients. I hope you can help attract more therapists to the Commonwealth and set incentives to lower prices for individual sessions.”

Keely Quinlan

Written by Keely Quinlan

Keely Quinlan reports on privacy and digital government for StateScoop. She was an investigative news reporter with Clarksville Now in Tennessee, where she resides, and her coverage included local crimes, courts, public education and public health. Her work has appeared in Teen Vogue, Stereogum and other outlets. She earned her bachelor’s in journalism and master’s in social and cultural analysis from New York University.

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